The California Coastal Commission on Friday unanimously approved changes to the Local Coastal Program for a site set to house 71 units of affordable housing in Moss Beach. 

The entire commission, including Commissioner Carole Groom, who also serves on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, followed the staff recommendation to approve the zoning changes, saying they are consistent with the local Land Use Plan and the California Coastal Act. Each commissioner who commented was also in support of the Cypress Point project that’s planned for the Moss Beach site. 

The proposal in front of the Coastal Commission on Friday was an amendment to the zoning for a parcel at the corner of Carlos and Sierra Streets, downsizing the Planned Unit Development from medium-high to medium density. The amended LCP also redefines the allowed building height, setbacks, landscaping and other site specifics outlined in the Implementation Program. 

Planned for the site are 71 units of 100 percent affordable housing for around 210 residents to be built and managed by MidPen Housing Corporation. 

More than a dozen members of the public spoke on the item, split in favor and in opposition of the zoning changes. Much of the public’s opposition centered on the inadequacy of the location of the project, with speakers citing deficient public transportation and infrastructure to manage an increase in residents, as well as environmental concerns. Midcoast Community Council member Gregg Dieguez was among those worried about the effects of additional housing on local traffic issues. 

“This project is just going to add 200 to 300 people to the body count in case of an emergency evacuation,” Dieguez said. 

Local housing advocates spoke in favor of the zoning changes, citing the need for more affordable housing on the Coastside. Alex Melendrez of the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County said it’s past time the site fulfills its intended purpose. 

“This site has been designated for affordable housing since the mid-'80s, and it hasn't provided any,” Melendrez said.

District 3 County Supervisor Don Horsley also spoke in favor of the zoning changes, saying the project would expand equitable coastal access and prioritize 75 percent of the units for Coastsiders who already live or work nearby. 

“That’s one of the ways in which we can reduce commute times and minimize traffic,” Horsley said. 

Coastal Commission staff member Erik Martinez said that the downsizing of the project, which was originally planned to house 148 units, reduces its potential impact on traffic and infrastructure. He cited the county’s Connect the Coastside transportation management planning as offering potential traffic mitigation for the Moss Beach area. 

“The level of intensity and density of the use would be roughly cut in half to match the character of the neighborhood,” Martinez said. 

Martinez also noted that even after approval of the zoning changes, the housing project would still need to receive a Coastal Development Permit, which would require a full analysis of the project’s impacts on traffic, infrastructure and other environmental impacts. 

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