Local advocacy group Midcoast ECO filed a lawsuit last month against the California Coastal Commission challenging its move to rezone a Moss Beach parcel that paved the way to begin permitting for eventual affordable housing.

Midcoast ECO Board Member JQ Oeswein said the group’s lawsuit seeks to stop forward progress on the project until a new environmental review is conducted that addresses the group’s concerns. The project, a proposed 71 units at the corner of Carlos and Sierra streets in Moss Beach, would be built and managed by MidPen Housing Corp.

Among Midcoast ECO’s environmental concerns are worsening traffic, habitat and ecosystem protection and potentially hazardous materials onsite. While a 2019 preliminary study looked at these factors, Oesewein said the group finds its analysis inadequate and its conclusion that the development will have little impact on the environment suspect.

Many of Midcoast ECO’s concerns center on the cumulative impacts of the many development projects set to go into the Midcoast, which it would like the Coastal Commission to review from a traffic and environmental standpoint. The group is also asking the Coastal Commission to take another look at alternative sites with more infrastructure to better fit a project of this size.

“It’s too early; you don't have all of the information,” Osewein said. “Let’s go back. …let’s see what's really there and what the actual issues are before we move forward.”

Oeswein said Midcoast ECO also believes that by certifying the changes to the Local Coastal Program before a full environmental review was conducted, the Coastal Commission violated the California Environmental Quality Act and the California Coastal Act.

Representatives from the Coastal Commission declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Before the housing project could be built, it would require a Coastal Development Permit, which would include a full environmental review. But Oeswein said that he and Midcoast ECO aren’t confident that the review will be sufficient.

“We’d have to see exactly what they’d be proposing to do,” Oeswein said.

“We think that’s a great first step to commit to a review.”

(8) comments

uffish thought

Zoning maps are created for the beneficial and orderly layout of a community after much discussion with the community stakeholders.

But they become useless if developers can simply pressure officials into changing them to their benefit.

This is just another residential development, no matter who's promoting it, and it's a whopper. Too big, too visible, too dense, too impactful. Too wrong for the location.

Coastal Commission staff blew this, big time. Stop letting developers drive our Coastside's future!

August West

Coastside NIMBYs at work. These folks simply do not want low-income housing anywhere near them. Sad.


I guess you don't live near the site and don't have a family to be concerned about. Why is it NIMBY to ask for an adequate soil test and clean up of a former military site BEFORE they start building?

Cid Young

All attempts to "LABEL" neighbors as "NIMBY's" is a typical ploy to dismiss legitimate concerns. In their attempt at rushing to by-pass the normal CEQA requirements by re-zoning prior to making the usual required (thorough) investigations like Environmental or Traffic studies, casts a shameful light on both the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors as well as the CA Coastal Commissioners. And MidPen Housing is negligent in refusing to listen to, or address, all the concerns of locals who know what it is like to reside in an unincorporated community with scarce services such as adequate public transportation or facilities including: School Buses, efficient public transportation, Sewer or water capacity, ability for fire suppression at a remote location in a fire zone with heavily constricted (nearly non-existent) Evacuation Routes, or shopping at a major store (14 miles round-trip to HMB or Pacifica). Future residents will soon learn that there are no Community Facilities such as a local Community Center for meetings, sports or refuge in an Emergency. There are plenty of County or State Parks for passive recreation, but very few facilities that offer and active Parks and Recreation opportunities such as sports fields, par course, tennis, swimming, after-school activities, picnic areas, Senior activities or public meetings. In addition, the schools are run down, as CUSD has spent most of the Bond money on facilities with-in the City Limits and ignored the needs of the MidCoast Elementary school facilities. Perhaps those you are labeling "NIMBYs are actually concerned that any families with two working adults and young children will be burdened to get those small kids to school due to lack of school buses. Even Joaquin JImenez attended rhe January 2020 SMC Planning Commission Hearing at the library and said that the location was a poor one. Normally, "Affordable Housing is built near services and transportation, like along the El Camino Real. If I were on the board of MidPen Housing, I would recommend tossing in the towel now, and focus on building the needed affordable housing closer to amenities, rather that create housing that will be burdensome on the future residents who will need to fight traffic (along with the rest of us) to get to work on time, spend gas to drive to jobs over-the-hill (like many of us) and to somehow shuttle their children to facilities in Half Moon Bay for opportunities like for sports, library and after-school activities, meanwhile fighting their way through #HMBGRIDLOCK. We need to also mention that there is no local Healthcare service in the unincorporated area since Seton was sold, and is used primarily as a long term residential care skilled nursing facility, with a tiny Emergency room in the back. These same parents will need to drive to Seton in Daly City, Kaiser in South San Francisco or Mills Hospital in Burlingame for critical incidents that may arise (like the rest of us).


Mr.West, as always, says NIMBYs. Curious, how would Mr.West feel about installing low income housing, with no regards whatsoever for traffic, no water due to drought, sewer syst is ancient needs millions just to upgrade, in Ocean Colony? Could use the swimming pool center, or 1 of the greens, clubhouse, adjacent to houses, maybe convert the Ritz, to low income, homeless, drug rehabilitation, immigration, or better yet, close down the hotel SMC just bought for homeless, & put in Ocean Colony? Just a thought.

Cid Young

From the very beginning at their first "Neighborhood Open House" at the Farallone View Elementary School, when MidPen came to introduce their plans to the Community, it seemed they kept "Moving the Cheese" and avoiding any topics like all the extra traffic. Instead of calling it High Density Affordable Housing, they said the density was comparable to the surrounding million dollar plus homes in Moss Beach heights. Well, 71 units may "sound like" a moderate number, but some are three bedrooms, 2 bedrooms and some 1 bedrooms. Even a 1 bedroom unit could be occupied by a 2-car couple. Where the heck are all those cars supposed to park? Other Mid Pen communities just have residents over-flow into the surrounding neighborhoods or use up street parking, like at MoonRidge Apartments on Miramontes Point Road, or the MidPen building in San Mateo (Peninsula Station Apartments, which then can burden surrounding local residents to hunt & compete for any available street parking spots. Many of us kept mentioning that the location was too far from shopping, and jobs, and that there are no school busses to get their Non-driving age kids to school. Later, they held another Q & A session at the El Granada School, but instead of MidPen being there to field legitimate questions by concerned citizens, they hired a Conflict Resolution meeting facilitator who only wrote down questions, and gave no answers. Queries such as "Since they will have a "On-Site Community Center, will members of the Public be allowed to use theirs?"

Actually, they never have said that they would welcome the MidCoasters, who have no such facility to use theirs. But, many other citizens mentioned the potential that a former military base may likely require toxic clean-up, and a the minimum, be fully investigated, but, like the Navy Ship yards in Hunter's Point, San Francisco, the developer rushed ahead, brushing off those suggestions.

It seems the Lawsuit believes the Coastal Commission to be complicit, as these words imply:

"The Commission failed to analyze the reasonably foreseeable impacts of the residential development allowed by the LCP Amendment. Rather than engage in the analysis needed for informed decision making and public participation, the Commission impermissibly forestalled that analysis to a “subsequent process” in regards to inter alia reasonably foreseeable traffic, biology, hazardous soils, water supplies, wastewater, and fire risk impacts."

"By failing to analyze the reasonably foreseeable impacts of the LCP Amendment, the Commission failed to comply with CEQA and prejudicially abused its discretion."

Yep, that about sums it up. One wonders if ANY of the voting Commissioners read ANY of the Public Comment before voting, or the MidCoast ECO's excellent letter from their Attorney.


When I reviewed the MidPen documentation a couple of years ago, they had a) picked the EIR consultant, and that firm had b) mis-spelled the name of the town and c) not used the correct parcel number - in its environmental searches, so NO WONDER nothing showed up. MidCoastEco found a 1989 letter from a contractor notifying the owners of asbestos on site. "Somehow" the MidPen consultants' testing missed the asbestos, and had several other major flaws. It's almost like they didn't want to find anything...

Kudos to MidCoastEco for standing up for rational housing planning, in the face of the $2 billion "non-profit" but profit-driven "developers" who are really in it for the 9% Real Estate Investment Tax Credit, rather than the well-being of the community!


I can't speak for Midcoast ECO but the title " Wants new environmental review" is misleading. The developer did NOT complete a full EIR and many issues have not been addressed in their application. For instance - the site is a former World War II-era facility used for gunnery training and the developer did not even care to test for asbestos but plans to haul a couple of hundred truck loads of soil from the site. I guess residents of Moss Beach and Montara have the right to be concerned.

MidCoast ECO has the lawsuit posted on their website:


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