Transportation in Moss Beach has become the talk of the coast. With planning meetings coming up for public review on both the “Connect the Coastside” plan and the Cypress Point affordable housing projects, it seems every week there’s a new presentation on what might happen to the two-mile strip of roads used most by the 3,000 residents of Moss Beach.
For public participants and local leaders, the many iterations of plans, ideas and proposals is starting to create confusion. At the last Midcoast Community Council meeting, some councilmembers set out to put the record straight. Councilmember Dan Haggerty highlighted that community priorities seem to center on traffic calming options — traffic lights versus roundabouts — at Highway 1 intersections and proposed changes to Carlos Street. And in response to questions about cost and decisionmaking, Councilmember Dave Olson clarified that the recommendations from the Connect the Coastside project aren’t set in stone.
“Connect the Coastside is not an implementation plan,” Olson said. “It’s like a master plan; it’s a framework. A laundry list of possible projects.”
Olson also made it clear that the plans laid out in the Connect the Coastside draft have not changed, even as planners on the Cypress Point project also consider traffic mitigation and increased transportation options for the neighborhood to help offset the impacts of residents occupying 71 new units.
Former councilmember and current County Planning Commissioner Lisa Ketcham, speaking as a community member with a special understanding of the planning processes, agreed that the Connect the Coastside plan is not intended to be a specific proposal. But she said that shouldn’t tamper community involvement because it will serve as a “book” the county can refer back to for future project plans.
“When it comes time that they want to do a project, for whatever reason, they will bolster the project by saying, ‘Look, it’s here in our book,’” Ketcham said. “So, it’s important that the things that are important to the community get into the Connect the Coastside.”
Many community members, at various public meetings and via social media, have expressed complaints with the public process surrounding transportation in Moss Beach — both as it relates to the Connect the Coastside plan and the Cypress Point project. They argue that the county’s public meetings, which lately have been held virtually and feature “breakout sessions” that are limited to specific conversations and go unrecorded, are not the best format. Some say they fail to foster public discussion about the thoughts of every neighbor.
“I have to say, I don’t really trust the process that’s happening,” said Karen deMoor, who serves on the board of “Resist Density,” a neighborhood group that arose out of the proposal for the Cypress Point housing complex.
Many called on the MCC to hold its own open forum to get full public comment, similar to the format used at a recent Montara Water and Sanitary District meeting, which held hours of public comment on rate increases answering residents’ questions about the reasoning and process.
They hope a similarly open format would help get residents’ questions about the project directly answered by county staff.
“There’s a lot of members of the public that want to have answers now, not down the road,” Moss Beach resident Cid Young said.
But it’s clear from council and community conversations that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to tackling such a wide document and set of proposals that consider short-, medium- and long-term solutions. MCC member Claire Toutant said replicating the success of the MWSD meeting will be a challenge because of the scope of the project and because the MCC does not have the final say when it comes to transportation in Moss Beach.
Following the final meeting this week, the MCC will take up the topic of transportation in Moss Beach again at its next meeting July 8. MCC Chair Len Erickson encouraged the public to send in their comments and stay engaged with the process as it continues. Erickson said the MCC is also planning to hold study sessions later in the summer to dive into the drafts and topics more deeply.