County put wrong photo in Moss Beach Park auction listing, compounds lack of notice to community of park sale

The auction listing for the Moss Beach Park, at an E-bay-like site called, contains as its only description of the parcel a photo that is not of the Moss Beach Park.

The photo on the auction page shows a a mown, grass covered lot with paved walkways and a wooden arbor next to a bird bath. The grass is lush and green with two benches and with what seems to be a light pole situated in the foreground. The shady parcel appears to be bordered on both sides by residential structures.

The real Moss Beach Park is dominated by a community-built castle play structure and basketball courts.

The two look nothing alike.

The “Moss Beach Park” of the auction listing:


The real Moss Beach Park:

Moss Beach Park 1 Moss Beach Park 2 Moss Beach Park 3

This latest discovery only serves to compound the sense that the community was not notified of the impending sale of the park.

The original notification that the property was to be sold was sent from the county to the PO box listed as the address for the non-profit which owned the park. That letter was returned to the county as undeliverable since the PO box was defunct. Later, a notice was placed in one of the over-the-hill newspapers, the San Mateo County Times, a paper with limited readership on the Coastside. Most likely this notice contained just the parcel number with no mention of the property being a park. Finally, as described above, the identifying information in the auction listing was erroneous, showing some other park area with no relation to the Moss Beach Park.

The property, delinquent on taxes for the past six years, was approved for sale by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors on April 23rd as part of a routine matter which comes up yearly. Properties which are delinquent on taxes for six years are offered, in bulk, at auction. The supervisors, as part of this routine business, were given a list of one hundred and twenty-eight properties listed only by a “TRA” number, parcel number, amount of taxes owed. No other information was presented for any of the properties.

The Moss Beach Park parcel number, 037-142-020, appears approximately a third of the way through this list.

It was approved for sale without discussion and along with other routine matters in a single vote.

[Download 4-page portion of Board of Supervisors 512-page meeting packet for April 23, 2013 where the properties to be auctioned are listed.]

It appears from the video of the vote, which has been reviewed by Montara Fog, that the Supervisors had no clue that buried in the list of properties was a park.

[See the video for yourself. The “consent agenda,” which is a vote on the property sale plus a number of other unrelated items, all at once, starts at time marker 10:10 and is over in a few seconds.]

It is conceivable that the eventual auction winner, who outbid other potential owners to win the property on July 23rd with a winning bid of $96,500 (bidding started at $8,200, the amount of taxes owed), might have been confused about the exact nature of the property he was bidding on. The auction lasted three days from first being posted to the property being sold.

While the auction is over it is not clear at this point whether the property has been deeded over to the new owner. A disclaimer in the auction description states, “San Mateo County reserves the right to cancel the sale of a property at any time prior to the issuance of the deed.”

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