Dear Editor:

I read in last week’s Review of the Council’s plan to potentially seize the six parcels west of Railroad Avenue for $91,000. I can understand why Thomas Gearing would oppose the seizing of his property, not to mention the paltry sum of $91,000, that the council is willing to offer.

To note several relevant facts: The Council chose to purchase, without public input, a single home on Kelly Avenue for more than $800,000 a few years ago. (I understand that it’s still empty.) Then there was the buildable, multi-parcel property on the east side of Highway 1 where a former City Council allowed excess soil to be dumped around the perimeter, creating a wetlands, which was and is unbuildable by California law. I understand that case went to trial and the owner was awarded $38 million, which in an appeal was reduced to $18 million. That is still a far cry from $91,000.

If Gearing’s six properties are sorely needed to reduce possible future erosion, then the City Council of Half Moon Bay is obligated to offer truly meaningful compensation.

For the record, I have no connection, financial interest, nor friendship with the property owner. I’m writing solely because I think this is a highly unjust situation.

Claudia Marshall

Half Moon Bay

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From the current LCP Update recommended for approval by the Coastal Commission:

Development Vision. The West of Railroad PD has long been envisioned for public land acquisition with the intent of preserving the larger blufftop area for its significant habitat, coastal access and recreation, and scenic value. While the 1996 Land Use Plan included Planned Development policies for West of Railroad, it prioritized public acquisition by the State Department of Park and Recreation to assure an adequate buffer between residential and recreational use in an area where the width of current public ownership is quite limited.

The Land Use Plan update recognizes that acquisition remains a priority. Due to budget constraints and numerous competing interests, State Parks has not been able to purchase any of the remaining privately-owned lots. This situation is not likely to change. Because this area is located immediately east of the City blufftop lands, these lots should be considered for acquisition directly by the City, through the City’s lot retirement program, or by land trusts. Public land acquisition would allow this land to be used for green infrastructure to address runoff and erosion concerns along this blufftop area. It would also allow space for managed retreat of the Coastal Trail as the bluffs erode to maintain public access and recreational opportunities.

Although undesirable, residential development remains a potential use. Complete re-planning and re-platting of the area would be necessary to establish buildable lots, alter the mapped street system to minimize access conflicts and improve local circulation, avoid ESHA and conform to ESHA buffers, and preserve views along the blufftops within this significant visual resource area.

The 1996 Land Use Plan conveyed that development of this area was not an ideal outcome and assigned the Regional Public Recreation land use designation to the West of Railroad PD, which is consistent with the most appropriate use of this area. The Regional Public Recreation land use designation is thus carried forward for the 2020 Land Use Plan update.

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