Big Wave Chronology

The failure of Big Wave to win approval from the California Coastal Commission this past Wednesday marks a possible end to the most controversial development proposal on the Coastside in recent
years. Whether or not the project is abandoned, is radically reformulated
to win approval, or whether proponents seek to overrule the Coastal
Commission decision, the vote offers an opportunity to reflect on the
history of the project. Toward that end I have prepared a chronology of
Big Wave, as revealed in media reports. Click on the links to reach the
full text (or video) of the original published report.

Big Wave Chronology


Coastal  Commission approves water pipe, December 17, Half Moon Bay Review,
by Jeanine Gore. “There was one party that left the commission hearing in
a less-than-jubilant mood. Jeff Peck, owner of Big Wave, LLC, said he was
disappointed the commission chose to leave special condition 4A intact,
instead of repealing it as he’d asked. The condition prevents the district
from expanding its boundaries – a limitation that Peck said will have a
“devastating” effect on his development project. Peck wants to build a
commercial project for light industrial and manufacturing purposes.”


Is ‘impervious surface’ limit intended everywhere?, February 23, Half
Moon Bay Review. By Jeanine Gore. “Though their project is still in the
planning stages, Peck and Barber are concerned a change to the Midcoast
Local Coastal Program limiting the amount of “impervious surface” in new
development could kill their project. They want the wording changed –
something San Mateo County intends to do.”

Unusual design surfaces in Moss Beach, May 4, Half Moon Bay Review, by
Jeanine Gore. “Jeff Peck and John Barber are planning a development
project unlike anything the Coastside has ever seen. It’s a development
hinged on bringing shelter and solace to two of the area’s most
under-served populations: people with developmental disabilities and
high-paid professionals with unbearably long commutes.”


Developer wants to turn on spigot by joining CCWD, January 18, Half Moon Bay
Review, by Marc Longpre. “It’s all about water. That’s the credo
California developers have been living by for decades, knowing proposed
projects will live or die based on their access to water. Jeff Peck may be
discovering that rule the hard way.”

Project runs into bureaucratic nightmare, February 2, Half Moon Bay Review,
Editorial by Clay Lambert. “Pity Jeff Peck. Call him a greedy Coastside
developer or a concerned Coastside father or something in between, but no
man should have to put up with what he has had to endure just to find out
whether building on his land is possible.”

Big Wave project gets its first public hearing, June 6,,
by Darin Boville. “Neither zoning designation provides for residential
use. The project proposes to include 18 small single-story homes (1200 sq.
ft., 2 bedroom, 2 bath) and 18 1-bedroom apartments. According to the
applicant, the 18 small homes would be initially sold at cost to members
of the developmentally-disabled community. From a planning perspective,
the residential portion of the project constitutes a new housing

County kicks off more Big Wave controversy, June 28. Half Moon Bay Review.
By Marc Longpre. ‘The land Iacopi is farming is known on the Coastside for
something else entirely. The team planning the Big Wave mixed-use project
owns it and some apparently thought that the land was being prepared for
construction. “That’s exactly what it is,” said Jeff Peck, partner in the
Big Wave project and Iacopi’s landlord. “I’m astounded someone would try
to stop someone from farming the land.”’


County meeting to prepare Coastsiders for Big Wave, Novemeber 12, Half Moon
Bay Review, by Greg Thomas. “For the past eight years, Jeff Peck, founder
of Big Wave Group, has been working out the kinks in his business plan to
create eco-friendly office space on the Midcoast and simultaneously
enhance the lives of people with developmental disabilities.”


A Big Wave (and I don’t mean Mavericks), February 3,
Video by Neil Merrilees and Darin Boville. [Note: This video proved to be
one of the most viewed videos in Montara Fog’s history.] “In this new
video, Neil Merrilees has a look at the Big Wave project and takes us on a
visit to the site, helping us to visualize the structures. “

Big Wave concerns, praise wash over Midcoast council, February 18, Half
Moon Bay Review, by Greg Thomas. “Jeff Peck, founder of Big Wave Group and
father to a developmentally disabled woman, has run into a series of
obstacles during design, including the lack of adequate water supply to
the site. Now he is wading through the Environmental Impact Report process
with the county. Presenting his revised facilities plan at the MCC
meeting, Peck says, was an added benefit to the Coastside community.”

Big Wave concerns spawn advice, March 18, Half Moon Bay Review, by Greg
Thomas. “But that view isn’t shared by everyone on the coast. People less
optimistic about a major commercial development on Airport Street are
beginning to brainstorm ways to make subtle amendments to Peck’s plan or,
in some cases, an overhaul.”

A history of the Big Wave parcel, in pictures, March 30,, by Darin Boville. “Jeff Peck, the project’s developer and
most vocal proponent, claims that it has been farmed since the 1930’s.
This claim gives the impression that the land presents no environmental
concerns in terms of habitat destruction–where tractors routinely plow
the Earth a natural habitat certainly cannot form. The evidence, from the
efforts of prior owners to build on the property and from aerial and
satellite imagery, does not appear to support the claim that the Big Wave
property is established farmland. Instead the photographic evidence
indicates that farming only began on the property to any significant
degree within the past five years. Peck and Barber purchased the property
in 1999.”

New Big Wave aerial photos, April 8,, by Darin Boville.
“Lisa Ketcham, a twelve-year resident of next-door Pillar Ridge, took
three images of the area on August 6th, 2002 from the air. None of the
images show any sign of agricultural activity on the parcels. “

Big Wave traffic study is already done, contrary to claims, April 17,, by Darin Boville. “When asked about traffic issues
relating to Big Wave, the major commercial development proposed for
Airport Road, proponent Jeff Peck was evasive, imploring the audience at
February’s Midcoast Community Council meeting to put aside that sensitive
question until the official Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was
complete. “

County tallies up potential impacts of Big Wave, October 28, Half Moon Bay
Review, by Greg Thomas. ““Bar none, this is the greenest project to ever
have been built in California,” Peck said.”

Big Wave is bigger than health care, bigger than Moby Dick, November 2,, by Darin Boville. “Citizens better get busy. At the
average adult reading speed it would take a full-time worker two and a
half weeks straight to read through the document. At this speed they would
not be able to pause long to study any of the complex tables or
photographs included as evidence.”

Big Wave won’t show size of project during comment period, only afterward,
November 4,, by Darin Boville. “The developer did not
indicate how or why any of these factors would be any different two months
later, in February of 2010, when they have offered to build the story
poles. The only difference appears to be that by building them then versus
now they avoid revealing the size of the structures during the public
comment period of the environmental impact report.”

Text of Big Wave’s refusal to build story poles, November 4,, by Darin Boville. [From text of letter sent by Big Wave to
County.] “Placing story poles on the property now will disrupt the
planting of our winter crop. If we cannot plant our winter crop, our
farmers will be out of work, causing their families significant economic

County responds to public outcry, extends Big Wave comment period, November
4,, by Darin Boville. {From county press release] “After
careful consideration of all the requests from the public to extend the
comment period for the Big Wave Draft EIR, I have decided to extend it by
15 calendar days. This will allow the full 60-day review period noted in
the California Environmental Quality Act.”

Environment Report missing key chapter in both printed and online versions,
November 6,, by Darin Boville. “A key chapter on water
issues is missing from the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Big
Wave project, in both the print and online versions, raising doubts about
the legality of the current review period.”

Were you notified about Big Wave?, November 8,, by Darin
Boville. “The Big Wave project notification area includes mostly
uninhabited fields and bluffs.”

Chapter N Returns, November 9,, by Darin Boville. “The online
version of the Big Wave environmental report has been quietly corrected. A
new version of the “all-in-one” download of the report was posted on
Friday which now includes the missing “Chapter N” on water issues.”

Big Wave attorney warns of Beachwood-style lawsuit if property is not
, November 10,, by Darin Boville. “David
Byers, in a November 5th letter to Lisa Grote, the Director of Planning
and Building, warns the County that it may be subject to an “inverse
condemnation” lawsuit if the Big Wave property is not allowed to be

Two explanations of Big Wave approval process, [Video], November 14,, by Darin Boville. “The community is now reviewing the
environmental report for the Big Wave Office Park/Sanitarium–but what is
the overall process? How does this review fit in with the other hurdles
the project must surmount? “

Planning Commission hears both sides of Big Wave, November 18, Half Moon Bay
Review, by Greg Thomas. “Speakers on both sides of the project showed up
in force. Some donned Big Wave sweatshirts and gave emotional testament to
the need for affordable housing for developmentally disabled people.
Others read from elaborate PowerPoint presentations packed with facts
pertaining to the history and geography of the proposed project site in

Coastsiders dig deep into Big Wave, November 19, Half Moon Bay Review, Greg
Thomas. “Sabers are rattling on both sides of a land use dispute between
challengers and proponents of the proposed Big Wave development in
Princeton as county planners prepare to hear a discussion of the proposal
at a meeting this morning.”

Big Wave before the Planning Commission, [Video], November 19,, by Darin Boville. “The room was packed at a Planning
Commission “informational hearing” for the Big Wave office park/sanitarium
complex that is proposed for the Moss Beach/Princeton harbor area. “

Will Big Wave be built over three years–or fifteen?, November 20,, by Darin Boville. “Adding further doubt and confusion over
the proposed Big Wave project, the controversial 315,000 square foot
office park/sanitarium near the airport, an appraisal of the project
released today by the county indicates that the Big Wave developer plans
to build the project over fifteen years. This schedule contradicts the
30-month to 3-year construction timeline given in the project’s
environmental report, currently in its public comment phase.”

Fire Chief: Big Wave report mischaracterizes impacts upon fire services,
December 14,, by Darin Boville. ‘One key question asked
whether Big Wave would result in a need for new facilities. Chief Cole
wrote in his answer that a new company of firemen might be required in the
area and that, since the existing station could not support the additional
company, the station would need to be expanded or a new station would need
to be built. Yet the report, though it mentions these concerns, dismisses
them in its analysis. When asked if the consultant had made contact with
Cole or the fire department in addition to the questionnaire Cole
responded, “No. They sent the questions in, out of the blue, and that was
the last I heard from them.”’


Big Wave report draws hundreds of comments, January 27, Half Moon Bay,
Greg Thomas. ‘The first round of review elicited 243 e-mail and hard copy
comments, in addition to 64 verbal testimonies presented before the county
Planning Commission at a meeting in November. “Yeah, it’s a lot of
comments,” said Camille Leung, the lead county planner on the project.’

CGF says Big Wave’s proposed story poles are inadequate, March 1,, by Barry Parr. “An attorney representing the Committee for
Green Foothills has put the county on notice that Big Wave’s plan for
story poles is inadequate [pdf]. The developer plans to erect poles
showing less than half the actual square footage of the project.”

Big Wave site visit delayed indefinitely, February 24, Half Moon Bay
Review, by Greg Thomas. “A visit to the site of the proposed Big Wave
development in Princeton set for March 8 has been cancelled and delayed to
“a date uncertain,” the San Mateo County Planning and Building Department
announced Wednesday.”

Planning Commission approves Big Wave proposal, March 9, Half Moon Bay
Review, by Lily Bixler. “The folks behind the Big Wave project are gearing
up to face what is expected to be a lengthy appeal process, after San
Mateo County Planning Commissioners narrowly approved Tuesday morning a
series of planning documents for a project to house and provide employment
for developmentally disabled adults on the Midcoast.”

Committee For Green Foothills letter to Planning Commissioners regarding Big Wave
Project EIR
, March 24,, by Sabrina Brennan. [From
letter by Lennie Roberts] “This decision flies in the face of the County’s
long-standing policy of not allowing applicants and their consultants to
prepare EIR’s or responses to public comments. Staff ‘s “peer review” of
the applicant’s responses does not cure the fundamental problem of
transparency and independence of this document.”

County planning department recommends that Big Wave help complete its own
environmental evaluation
, March 25,, by Darin
Boville. “At a county Planning Commission hearing today Jim Eggemeyer,
interim director of the County Planning Department, advocated that his
office “collaberate” with an unnamed third party–identified elsewhere in
the hearing as Scott Holmes, a member of the leadership team of Big
Wave–in order to respond to the many public comments received concerning
the Big Wave development proposal. “

Project engineer for Big Wave responds to controversial decision to allow him to
help complete Big Wave’s own environmental review
, March 25,, by Darin Boville. “Scott Holmes, the project engineer for
Big Wave and a member of the board of directors for the project’s
“wellness center” defended the county’s decision to enlist his help in
responding to public comments on his own project.”

Open letter to Planning Director Jim Eggemeyer: We’re losing patience with
your secrecy on Big Wave
, April 28,, by Darin
Boville. “At a Planning Commission meeting in late March of this year you
made the startling announcement that you would be allowing Big Wave to
help complete its own environmental report and that your staff would
assist in this effort.”

Horsley calls ‘new media’ campaign a “deliberate misrepresentation of my
position” on Big Wave
, June 7,, by Darin Boville.
‘”It is a deliberate misinterpretation of my position. I have said that as
a parent of three children, I understand the desire of parents of a
developmentally disabled child to provide for the care of that child after
the parents pass on. So, I have said that I don’t oppose the Wellness
Center but I have concerns about the bulk of the project, the height, the
traffic generated, the size of the office complex and the agricultural
water supply. Those questions and others related to setbacks, orientation
of the proposed buildings and location on the property need careful
analysis before this project could be approved.” ‘

Staffer picked to lead county Planning Department, has made controversial
decisions on Big Wave,
June 9,, by Darin Boville
[From county press release] ‘“Jim has extensive experience working with
the community in the unique planning challenges in the unincorporated
areas,” Boesch said. “He also has exceptional technical expertise in
local, state and federal planning guidelines and regulations. He is well
qualified to lead such an important department.” ‘

New planning director shares vision for the coast, July 21, Half Moon
Bay Review, by Lily Bixler. ‘“You’re not getting back to this community,”
said Bill Kehoe, who will soon be joining MCC. “If you don’t communicate
to the people and projects go up that we don’t want, we’re going to feel
like there’s money under the table there buying you off. There’s too much
nonsense going on here behind closed doors. If we sent questions from the
community council and you can’t respond in this day and age with e-mail,
then we want to know why.”’

MCC calls for 60 day review, full story poles for Big Wave, October 10,, by David Vespremi. “So far, Camille Leung, the project
planner for Big Wave, has offered the public 20 days to review the Final
Environmental Impact Report and story poles (partial? complete?) up only
10 days prior to the planning commission hearing.”

Big Wave, already bigger than Moby Dick, grows another five hundred pages,
October 18,, by Darin Boville. “Just when you think it
couldn’t get any bigger. The new Big Wave environmental report has gained
nearly one thousand pages since it was last seen ten months ago. It is now
just under three thousand pages long. The public has twelve days in total
to review this mighty tome of dense text and diagrams which was prepared
not only by the Big Wave proponents but also, startlingly, by County

County staff recommends approval for Big Wave plan they helped write,
October 21,, by Darin Boville. “As readers will recall,
during the review of the project’s environmental plan the proponents faced
an unexpectedly large outcry from the public. The consultant hired by Big
Wave, facing hundreds of written comments challenging Big Wave’s claims,
refused to undertake the work without additional payment.”

Big Wave story poles up; Next hearing Weds, Oct 27, October 22,, by Barry Parr. “The story poles for some of the Big Wave
buildings have gone up in advance of next Wednesday’s hearing on the Final
Environmental Impact report. Lisa Ketcham photographed the the structures
and enhanced them to make the more visible in these photos.”

Chart: Big Wave EIR preparation time vs. public’s time to review, October
23,, by Barry Parr. “If the public seems less prepared than
the developers and their supporters, now you know why.”

Moss Beach computer modeler shows Big Wave’s visual impact, November 8,, by Darin Boville. “Laslo Vespremi is a software designer
and 3-D computer modeler who lives in Moss Beach. The proponents of Big
Wave have been reluctant to provide complete information on the visual
impacts of the project–most recently refusing to erect story poles for
all of the structures in the complex. To help remedy this Laslo used 3-D
modeling tools to input the height and location of the buildings as shown
in the project’s planing documents. He models the parking area as well.”

Video: Big Wave Planning Commission discussion and vote, December 7,, by Darin Boville. “Contributor Neil Merrilees attended the
Planning Commission hearing on Big Wave and made this video of the final
discussion and vote allowing viewers to see for themselves how the
planning process and its institutions work–or doesn’t work. “

Six Coastside organizations file joint Big Wave appeal, GSD files as well,
December 10,, by Darin Boville. “Six coastside
organizations–the Committee for Green Foothills, the Surfrider
Foundation, the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club, the California
Pilots Association, the Pillar Ridge Homeowners Association, and the
League for Coastside Protection have filed a joint appeal of the San Mateo
County Planning Commission’s approval of the Big Wave development. “


Planning staff pushes supervisors to deny Big Wave appeals, March 11, Half
Moon Bay Review, by Lily Bixler. “Staffers from San Mateo County Planning
Department have released a report recommending the Board Supervisors deny
appeals to the Big Wave project and instead uphold the Planning
Commission’s decision to approve important planning documents.”

Big Wave project makes big step, March 31, Half Moon Bay Review, by Lily
Bixler. “The Big Wave Project jumped a major hurdle Tuesday as San Mateo
County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to deny several appeals and
approve key planning documents for the Midcoast project that aims to
provide housing and employment for developmentally disabled adults.”

Big Wave moves on to Coastal Commission, April 6, Half Moon Bay Review,
by Lily Bixler. ‘”Coastal Commission will look at this more critically
than the county did,” said Committee for Green Foothills Legislative
Advocate Lennie Roberts, who appealed to the supervisors and plans to do
the same to the Coastal Commission.’

Five organizations appeal Big Wave to Coastal Commission, April 19,, by Barry Parr. “You can download the appeals from the five
organizations, Montara Water and Sanitary District, and Granada Sanitary
District from Coastsider.”

Local group slaps county with lawsuit over Big Wave project, April 28,
Half Moon Bay Review, by Lily Bixler. ‘”The Board of Supervisors ignored
basic common sense in granting approval for this project,” Committee for
Green Foothills Legislative Advocate Lennie Roberts said in a prepared
statement. “This project threatens our waterways and puts dozens of our
most vulnerable residents at risk. Turning a blind eye to the many real
dangers associated with the Big Wave Project will not make them go away.”‘

Big Wave raises many concerns, May 25, Half Moon Bay Review, Op-ed by
Lennie Roberts. “Big Wave’s proposed Wellness Center’s housing for
developmentally disabled adults is a meritorious concept, but
unfortunately does not comply with long-standing county General Plan,
Local Coastal Plan and zoning regulations protecting people against risks
from natural and manmade hazards.”

Big Wave piece more fiction than fact, June 1, Half Moon Bay Review,
Op-Ed by Jeff Peck. “Lennie Roberts of the Committee for Green Foothills
continues to use hyperbole in her opposition to the Big Wave Project
(Review, May 25). In her last Matter of Opinion, she made unusual claims
relating to project size, environmental damage, extraordinary hazards to
disabled adults, and that Big Wave does not comply with county, state and
zoning regulations. Here are the facts.”

Big Wave project treads water, August 11, Half Moon Bay Review, by Lily
Bixler. “The proposed Midcoast development known as the Big Wave Project
is in a sort of project planning limbo. Local groups in opposition to San
Mateo County’s decision to greenlight the project have blocked the process
on two fronts: by appealing to the California Coastal Commission and
through a joint lawsuit against the county.”

Coastal Commission responds to Big Wave, suggests that the project be
“re-envisioned” or relocated
, September 3,, by Darin
Boville. “The text of the letter from the Coastal Commission to Scott
Holmes, the technical lead on the Big Wave project. “


Coastal Commission staff recommends rejection of Big Wave Project, July 27,, by Darin Boville. “In a report published today on the
controversial Big Wave Project, the Coastal 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.”

Coastal Commission shoots down Big Wave, August 8, Half Moon Bay Review, by
Clay Lambert. “The future of the Big Wave office park and housing complex
for the developmentally disabled is in doubt today after the California
Coastal Commission sided with appellants who raised nearly a dozen issues
with the proposal.”

Video: Coastal Commission says “no” to Big Wave, August 10,,
by Darin Boville. “The Coastal Commission on Wednesday, following its
staff recommendation, rejected the controversial Big Wave development
proposal. This is the video of the entire hearing at the Coastal

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