County quietly fast-tracks Big Wave for approval, construction to begin in 2015

Despite overwhelming, perhaps record-setting, public opposition to its previous incarnation the Big Wave development project in Moss Beach has been quietly fast-tracked by the county planning department for approval. A planning commission vote has been scheduled for October 22 and the comment period for the final project draft is already two weeks into its 30-day “courtesy” review period.

Construction on the new version of the project, with only about ten percent less square footage than before but reconfigured into fewer buildings and a smaller overall footprint, is scheduled to begin in 2015.

There appears to be little chance of stopping the project or making significant changes.

The San Mateo County Planning and Building Department has in the past demonstrated such strong support for the project that it was often difficult to tell the difference between county staffers and project applicants. The Board of Supervisors will be unable to vote against a project they unanimously voted for in its last go-round, when the project was bigger and presented even greater environmental concerns. And it is unlikely that the Coastal Commission will once again sink the project since, according to Scott Holmes, Big Wave’s architect and planner, the new configuration of the project essentially conforms to the changes requested by the Committee for Green Foothills, a powerful opponent of the project when it was last before the Commission.

County planner Camille Leung, in a presentation to the MidCoast Community Council this evening, described the project in largely the same terms as in 2011, with some reductions in size and changes in configuration. Some of the project’s least believable claims have been rectified. For example, water will now be supplied by MWSD rather than wells or a desalination plant.

But blatant make-believe remains in the form of the traffic study, which finds that the five hundred plus sparking spaces won’t do anything much to traffic congestion coming out of the harbor area that a roundabout (at Cypress) won’t fix. According to Leung, the traffic consultants won’t be available to answer questions from the public directly prior the day of the planning commission vote because of their expensive hourly rates. Neither she nor Scott Holmes were able to explain the traffic study methodology or to offer detailed responses to criticisms of that report.

Readers who are interested in seeing the project proposal can find the documentation at the County’s web site: https://planning.smcgov.org/big-wave-north-parcel-alternative-project

You can send your comments on the proposal to project planner Camille Leung at cleung@smcgov.org

The comment deadline is September 2nd. Comments will be taken after the September 2nd deadline but they will not receive a response from the county. Comments received before the deadline will not receive an individual response but will instead be grouped with similar comments to which the county will offer a general response.

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