Image- Moss Beach housing
Some neighbors say an early proposal for a housing development in Moss Beach is out of scale with the community. Ashlyn Rollins/Review

At the intersection of California Avenue and Etheldore Street in Moss Beach sits an empty plot of overgrown vegetation behind a yoga studio and a Pilates business. Now, someone wants to develop it. 

The three-story townhouse development with two buildings and eight units would be within allowable height limits, but it received a cold reception at the Midcoast Community Council on Thursday night.

“It’s just an eyesore,” Councilmember Dan Haggerty said. “... It would be a disaster if this was built.” 

The owner of the parcel, Coastside Market LLC, did not respond to requests for comment, but project architect Ed Love said the idea was conceived about two years ago. The MCC meeting was the first step in trying to make the project a reality.

In 1973, the area was zoned to be a planned unit development. The MCC has recommended updating the zone to fit with other buildings in the area. MCC Chair Claire Toutant said in an interview there’s an effort to standardize zoning regulations to cap development at 28 feet high. 

“In ’73 this seemed like a good idea,” said former MCC member Lisa Ketcham. “...In the meantime, the world has moved on and this hasn’t been looked at.”

A primary issue echoed by the council and the community at the meeting regarding the proposed project is the building’s size in comparison to the surrounding area. 

“For me, it’s huge. It’s so tall,” MCC member Michelle Weil said. “... It’s so different from the existing character of Moss Beach. Of course, the units need parking, but raising it a whole floor for parking is making these units appear so much larger than the actual residential area.” 

The council and those present at the meeting discussed traffic concerns as well. Some worried the parcel’s location on California Avenue is too close to the intersection on Highway 1. 

“The impact on that intersection is tremendous,” said Dolores Silva. She is a board member of a community group known as Resist Density. “That’s where there’s either going to be a signal or a roundabout, and it’s already going to be clogged, and that just to me stands out like a major sore thumb.

“We wouldn’t oppose a more reasonable approach,” she added.

In light of these concerns, the board amended a letter to the county planner that will serve as guidance from the Midcoast’s advisory board. “Due to the proximity to a busy and dangerous Highway 1 intersection, the MCC believes a traffic impact report should be required,” it read in part. But Supervisor Don Horsley doesn’t believe a traffic impact report will be necessary since he thinks it’s fairly clear how traffic will impact the intersection. 

“I don’t want to understate the issue of traffic at that intersection,” he said. “It’s a problem.” 

The proposal, however, will still have to go through multiple rounds of review.

“It’s got a long way to go before anything happens,” Horsley said. 

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