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Logs that officials say were meant to delineate property lines on the Burnham Strip are creating a stir on the Midcoast. Kyle Ludowitz/Review

Coastsiders driving past Surfer’s Beach along Highway 1 might have noticed a new addition to the landscape lately. A row of massive logs, studded with yellow reflectors, have been half-buried beneath the ground at the unofficial parking lot across from the notorious surf spot. 

The logs were installed earlier this month to mark the property line between the Caltrans right of way, parallel to Highway 1, and the stretch of undeveloped land in El Granada known as the Burnham Strip, said Delia Comito, assistant general manager for the Granada Community Services District. Members of the GCSD board said that the logs also served to prevent commuters from cutting through the property. 

“Now, people can’t drive in off the highway and park on our property,” said GCSD board president Leonard Woren. “And people can’t cut through there to circumvent congestion on Highway 1. Some people have been driving through that area.”  

“We also wanted people away from the wetlands on both sides,” said fellow board member Barbara Dye. 

But, despite the fact that the logs were only placed in the lot several weeks ago, they have already begun to ruffle feathers in the community. Tim Pond, owner of Tim Pond Design in Half Moon Bay, likened the project to Martin’s Beach, arguing that the GCSD had eliminated a number of available parking spaces for beachgoers.

“It changes, fundamentally, the access to the beach by restricting parking,” he said.

The lot sits on a portion of the Burnham Strip purchased by the Granada Community Services District in 2010. Woren emphasized that neither the property’s previous owner, the San Mateo County Harbor District nor the GCSD, authorized the land for parking. 

“It’s not our responsibility to provide visitor-serving parking on land that is in the land use plan as a community park,” said Woren. “The fact that people from outside of the community pushed, in the (Local Coastal Program) update, to have parking as an allowed use is not relevant because the land use plan was not amended. Under California law, the zoning has to match the land use.

“Plus, it’s the district’s property,” he added. “Why are outside people allowed to dictate what we do with it?” 

Pond also questioned whether the work was done illegally, bypassing any requirements for a Coastal Development Permit. Officials with both the GCSD and the San Mateo County Planning and Building Department confirmed that a permit was not required in this case.   

“If there was (supposed to be) a permit, I think that our general counsel would have said something,” added Woren. 

Woren also voiced concerns that the nearby Pillar Point RV Park has made the problem of available parking even worse. He said that some residents have taken up visitor spaces by illegally parking multiple vehicles in the beach-adjacent RV parking lot. 

And as for the logs themselves, Comito remains unsure what will happen to the impromptu barrier if the property at Burnham Strip is turned into parkland. For the moment, it looks like they’re here to stay. 

“Certainly, there is a need for parking,” she said. “I don’t know what the requirements will be, but if (the property) is turned into a park, there will be some parking spaces required.”

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