450 Wavescrest Road

The property at 450 Wavescrest Road in Half Moon Bay contains vehicles and building materials.

The San Mateo County Environmental Health Department is keeping a close eye on 450 Wavecrest Road in Half Moon Bay after a complaint gave reason to inspect the property and observe what appear to be various violations of health and safety codes.

The address has brought public interest in the past while under the ownership of Don Heinz, a founding member of the Half Moon Bay Open Space Trust and a former member of the city's Planning Commission.

“I bought that property in 1980 or ’81, and I was going to put up a barn and farm,” Heinz said in a phone interview from his current home in Massachusetts. “The city stopped that and wanted to put it into eminent domain.”

Local voters thwarted plans to develop the land in 1995, and a consequential Environmental Impact Report effectively limited the area’s development by private landowners, as well.

In 2007, the city forced Heinz to vacate his land after he attempted to live there without sewage. He also violated zoning codes by allegedly repairing automobiles on the property zoned for agriculture.

Heinz leased out the land to Steve Melo and his local landscaping business. Melo recently purchased the land in November 2014, according to Heinz, although public records show that the land was purchased by a limited liability company.

Heinz claimed that Melo used the land to store broken down vehicles since the lease began. The county, the city and Coastside Fire Protection District made a joint inspection on March 30. The visit confirmed that the property violated fire, environmental, health, and city zoning and building codes, according to Robyn Thaw, the public information and communications officer for San Mateo County Health System.

Environmental Health issued a notice of violation to the property owner on April 2, for violating state hazardous materials storage and disposal regulations. If a property owner does not make significant efforts to comply with hazardous materials management regulations, the fine can be up to $25,000 per violation and $5,000 per day, according to Thaw.

Environmental Health officials say they believe that the property owner is addressing the violations and that the issues will be resolved in the next few weeks.

“The Health System takes possible environmental health concerns very seriously,” stated Heather Forshey, Director of San Mateo County Environmental Health Services in an email. “We are working closely with this property owner, who is making significant efforts to meet all state regulatory requirements, and we expect to have this resolved in the next few weeks.”

Melo did not return phone calls seeking comment.

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