The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors voted today to accept ownership of Moss Beach Park. The vote, after a short discussion, was 5-0. With this vote it is hoped that the park will be protected and preserved in perpetuity.
Earlier this year controversy erupted on the coast when it was learned that the park had inadvertently been sold to a developer for the non-payment of taxes. The park owner, the non-profit Coastside Preservation and Recreation, had become dormant and had, over the years since the parks community-led constriction in 2004, failed to pay the fees needed to keep up its non-profit status and even failed to pay for its post office box. When the county drew up a list of parcels to be sold to pay back taxes the park, listed only by parcel number, made the list. The sale was discovered shortly after the property was auctioned off to a Pacifica developer.
The community was galvanized by the issue and after over a week of turmoil a plan emerged, designed by County Supervisor Don Horsley: Void the auction, reconstitute the Coastside Preservation and Recreation organization to take ownership of the park in the short term, and transfer ownership of the park to the County in the long term. Today’s votes marks the completion of that plan.
Parks commissioner Neil Merrilees, who was involved in the original construction at the park, led the grassroots effort to undo the auction and preserve the park. Working with the community and with Horsley’s office Merrilees,who agreed to serve as the new president of the re-formed Coastside Preservation and Recreation, worked with the community to develop and build support for the plan.
At today’s meeting Commissioner Dave Pine spoke about the maintenance requirements and the associated costs the county would incur due to the park but nevertheless voiced strong support for the park’s acquisition. Horsley acknowledged those costs but suggested they might be offset by the assistance provided by local youth groups who are already active in maintaining the park and in a new “Friends of Moss Beach Park” group, comprised of local citizens.
Merrilees, in his remarks before the vote, said to the board that the community was ready and willing to do whatever was necessary to support the park.