Coastal Commission staff recommends rejection of Big Wave Project

In a report published today on the controversial Big Wave Project, the Costal Commission staff recommended that the development proposal not be awarded the permits required to move forward. The hearing for the Commission to decide on the project is set for August 8, 2012.

Download the complete report here.

From the staff report:

Big Wave Group, LLC proposes a to divide the northern parcel into 10 lots and the southern parcel into 3 lots; construct 8 office park buildings containing 225,000 square feet of mixed- office uses and a 640 space parking lot; construct 2 wellness center buildings containing a maximum of 57 dwelling units and accessory uses and a 50 space parking lot, 10,000 square feet commercial public storage use and 4,000 square feet of wellness center storage uses; 6,000 square feet of communications and back up power uses; wetland habitat creation; use of an existing agricultural well for domestic purposes; establishment of a mutual water service company and a community wastewater treatment and recycling system; and 26,050 cubic yards of balanced cut and fill, in the Princeton/El Granada area of the San Mateo County Urban Midcoast, directly adjacent to the Half Moon Bay Airport. The project site is subject to significant development constraints due to proximity to coastal and seismic hazards, and proximity to sensitive habitats, including wetlands and a stream. The site is also located within a significant public viewshed between Highway 1 and the coast. In addition, the site is located in the County’s working waterfront industrial area that is protected by the LCP for coastal related/dependent uses.

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors approved a CDP for the proposed project. Numerous groups, in addition to two Commissioners, appealed that decision to the Coastal Commission. The appeals contend that the County’s approval is inconsistent with the County’s LCP because the project approved by the County ignores serious public services constraints, would not remedy potential tsunami and fault hazards, contains inadequate setbacks to protect biological resources on and adjacent to the site, and would obstruct and otherwise adversely affect important coastal views and would not blend visually with the surrounding area. Staff recommends that the Commission find that the appeals raise a substantial issue of conformance of the approved project with the County’s LCP.

The LCP requires that adequate public services be available to accommodate new development in the urban midcoast area. The project proposes the conversion of an on-site agricultural well as its domestic water source. The proposal also includes granting the on-site well to Montara Water and Sanitary District for it to manage. However, pursuant to the LCP, the agricultural well may
2be used to serve no more than four newly subdivided parcels, while the proposed project calls for 13 parcels total. In addition, pursuant to Montara Water and Sanitary District’s current Public Works Plan, the district is not allowed to expand its service capacity to serve new customers. Thus, the proposed project does not ensure an adequate public water supply, as required by the LCP .

Regarding wastewater disposal, the project proposes a private on-site wastewater treatment system with partial reuse and disposal on site and disposal of the remainder of wastewater to the Granada Sanitary District (GSD) public sewer system. In addition, the project proposes that the public sewer utility will provide emergency sewer service in the event that the private system fails. However, GSD may not have adequate transmission and pumping capacity to accommodate the full volume of wastewater, particularly in winter when wet weather flows at times have exceeded transmission capacity already. Inadequate or improperly functioning wastewater treatment, and/or improper discharge of wastewater effluent, which has the potential to degrade coastal water quality and marine resources, is inconsistent with the LCP and Coastal Act.

The LCP requires new development to avoid and minimize impacts due to hazards. New development is prohibited in the tsunami inundation area unless designed to withstand certain tsunami force and residential units must be located sufficiently above projected maximum waves that could threaten the site in the future. In conflict with these requirements, the proposed project would place new residential development lower than the minimum necessary to avoid detrimental impacts caused by tsunamis. Further, the proposed project does not include an adequate analysis of the geotechnical hazards at the site, including seismic hazards, and therefore, it is unclear what the impacts from those hazards would be, or if the project has been designed to adequately minimize such potential hazards.

The project’s traffic analysis lacks the detail and information necessary to determine that the project meets the LCP requirements for allowing the proposed level of density/development given the proposed vehicle trips per day and does not include adequate measures to offset the impacts of these additional trips on roadway capacity or the public’s ability to reach the shoreline. The project also does not provide adequate public parking opportunities and its impact to surrounding traffic/circulation will negatively impact the public’s beach access. In short, the project would not maximize public access to the coast consistent with the applicable requirements of the Coastal Act and LCP.

Further, the proposed development does not demonstrate that: (1) it is sited a sufficient distance from adjacent wetland and riparian resources associated with Pillar Point Marsh, including its proximity to riparian vegetation as well as the creek bank and normal creek flow line; or (2) it protects agricultural resources consistent with applicable LCP policies.

Finally, the proposed project would block significant views from public areas to the ridgeline (west of the project), and would adversely impact the public viewshed overall.

Therefore, the proposed project is inconsistent with a variety of LCP requirements. For these reasons, which are developed in detail in this report, the proposed project is inconsistent with the
County’s LCP and applicable Coastal Act policies. As a result, Staff recommends that the
Commission deny a CDP for the proposed project
.

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