Tag Archives | Moss Beach Park

County votes to acquire Moss Beach Park, completion of plan to save the park

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.

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MWSD details history of involvement with Moss Beach Park, suggests it has supported water connection at the park for many years

[The following letter, from MWSD president Jim Harvey, was sent yesterday to approximately seventy coastside residents.]

9/24/13

Statement from Jim Harvey to the Moss Beach Park Email Group

Many individuals have donated personal time and effort to the operation, and continued access to the Moss Beach Park. It is an important Community resource that needs to be maintained and protected.

I would like to correct some misstatements and misconceptions about the involvement of Montara Water and Sanitary District, MWSD, in regards to Moss Beach Park.   MWSD fully supports Supervisor Horsley’s plan for San Mateo County to operate the Moss Beach Park.  The Board of MWSD is committed to working with the Community to protect the park as a valued resource, even if Supervisor Horsley’s plan is unsuccessful for some reason.

Following is a brief history of MWSD’s dealings with the Moss Beach Park.

On May 5, 1988, Citizens Utilities purchased a drinking fountain for the park.  No charges were made for the water use.

In 2003 MWSD took over the water system from Cal-AM Water Company.    The policy of no charge for water use was continued.

During the construction of the park the water fountain was dismantled and converted to a hose bib.

On October 21, 2005, a leak was detected at the water fountain and the hose bib was tightened and leak stopped.  The Park Committee was notified.

On December 9, 2005, the leak was observed by MWSD staff to still be present. It could not be fixed by tightening the hose bib, so the water service was turned off to prevent wasting water.    The Park Committee was notified again.  MWSD received no response from the Park Committee.

On the May 2009 MWSD agenda the Park Committee asked for water and sewer connection for flush toilets.

On June 2009 MWSD Meeting, the MWSD Board passed Resolution Number 1450 (See wording below) giving the Moss Beach Park both water and Sewer connections at zero charge.

This offer was made as a variance to our then existing water moratorium because MWSD recognized the Moss Beach Park both value to the local Community.   The charge for both water and sewer connections would normally have been $20,000 each for an approximate total of $40,000.  MWSD waived these connection fees.

MWSD did not receive a response from the Moss Beach Park Committee after the variance they requested was granted.    We would welcome the Committee’s response so that connections can be made.

RESOLUTION NO. 1450

RESOLUTION OF THE MONTARA WATER AND SANITARY DISTRICT FINDING SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES AND GRANTING VARIANCE FOR SEWERAGE SERVICE FOR PROPERTY COMMONLY REFERRED TO AS “MOSS BEACH COMMUNITY PARK” AND MAKING FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS REGARDING SEWERAGE AND WATER SERVICE FOR SAID PROPERTY.

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Moss Beach Park non-profit reforms with new leadership

CPR

Pictured, from left to right (front row): Rocky Raynor, treasurer of the Coastside Boys and Girls Club, who accepted the donation to pay the tax bill while CP&R was reforming, Debora MacKimmie, treasurer of CP&R, Julie and Paul Shenkman, owners of Sam’s Chowder House, who donated the money to pay the park’s tax bill, (back row) Eric Watts, vice-president of CP&R, Bruce MacKimmie and Chris Ekeberg, both at-large members of CP&R, Neil Merrilees, president of CP&R, and Don Horsley, San Mateo County Supervisor.

The non-profit that owns Moss Beach Park,  Coastside Preservation and Recreation (CP&R), has reformed with new leadership. Neil Merrilees has joined the board as president along with Eric Watts as vice-preident, Kirsten Baron serving as secretary, and Debora MacKimmie as the new treasurer. Also serving on the new board are Bruce MacKimmie, Tim Pond, and Chris Ekeberg.

The group will now have to follow through on handing the park over to the County, once the county changes its policy regarding “pocket” parks

One month ago coastsiders were astonished to learn that he Moss Beach Park has been sold to Pacifica developer Mike O’Connell. Citizens rallied to defend the park and the county intervened in the sale, returning the park to the original owner, the nonprofit Coastside Preservation and Recreation. The old board had languished after the park was build in 2004 and failed to pay its property taxes for many years, resulting in the parcel being listed on the county’s delinquent property auction list.

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Developer who tried to buy park won second property in Moss Beach–again with wrong photo

The Pacifica developer, Mike O’Connell, who attempted to buy the Moss Beach Park also won a second Moss Beach Park property in that same July 23rd auction.

A review of this second auction raises perplexing questions in that the auction photo is once again of the wrong property and the new lot has already been cleared.

The property is located at the intersection of Sunshine Valley Road and Seabright Court (near the intersection of Sunshine Valley and Etheldore). Like the Moss Beach Park parcel, the second parcel was sold by the county after the owner failed to pay property taxes. The total tax bill at the time of auction was $8500. The final auction amount was $35,000 with thirty bids. Like E-bay, bidders can bid more than once.

O’Connell has built a name for himself by buying at auction Pacifica school surplus properties and converting them to residential use. He was offered an opportunity to comment on this article but did not respond.

Like the auction for the Moss Beach Park, the auction for the Sunshine Valley Road parcel has an erroneous parcel photograph. As the photograph constituted the only substantive description of the parcel in the auction, aside from the parcel number, the error raises further questions about the county’s process for selling properties.

The Sunshine Valley Road auction photo shows what appears to be public land. This image shows bluff top chaparral located just above Montara Beach and taken from a position just north of the La Costanera Restaurant in Montara. Devil’s Slide is clearly visible in the background.

This first photo is from the auction for the Sunshine Valley Road parcel.

Auction Photo

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By lining up the call box sign and the distant ranch gate I was able to determine the location from which the photo was taken. The photo below was taken today. (The precise vantage point of the auction photograph is about five feet further into the thick brush–it was not so thick when the auction photo was taken.)

Photo taken today from same vantage point

Mimic_shot_Oconnell

A wider view of the location of the auction photo vantage point–the red circle indicates the position from which the auction photo was taken with the auction photographer (presumable a county employee) pointing his camera toward Devil’s Slide.

A wider view showing position of auction photographer

Wide_shot_mimic_Oconnell

The actual Sunshine Valley Road property won by O’Connell is on a small flat lot in Moss Beach. A fire hydrant is installed at the front of the property. A capped well sits in the center if the property, which is bounded at the rear by a creek (apparently Dean Creek).

The property has recently been cleared. Google Earth and Google Maps photos show the property in June 2011 overgrown with trees and brush. Cut marks on branches and trees looked to have been made in the last few weeks. It is not yet known who performed the clear-cuttung. It is not obvious why the former owner, in default over taxes, would make the expense. Nor has the sixty-day period within which the county has the right to cancel the auction ended, so it seems unlikely that the property has been already deeded over to O’Connell. If the county cleared the plot in order to make the property more attractive at auction that would raise questions about the Moss Beach Park auction–if the county was inspecting and improving properties prior to auction then employes must have realized that Moss Beach Park, when it was inspected, was indeed a park.

Google Earth aerial view of the property, roughly outlined in red.

Actual property, 2011

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Google Street-View of the same property from Sunshine Valley Road

From Sunshine Valley Road, 2011

Second_Moss_Beach_Oconnell_June_2011_Google

A visit to the property today showing that it has been cleared of vegatation.

The property today, newly cleared

Second_Moss_Beach_wide

 

A recently cut tree 

Second_Moss_Beach_cutting

O’Connell also won a third bid in that same auction, for a plot in Pacifica. Like the previous two examples, this one also has an erroneous photograph, showing a steep, treed hill when, according to images on Google Maps, the parcel is on a named dirt road in Pacifica, apparently without trees or steep hills.

 Sunshine Valley Road auction page

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Horsley: Moss Beach Park “no longer in danger of being taken from the community”

 

Rocky_Don_Moss_Beach_Park_Check

[Don Horsely is the president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. Last Wednesday he outlined a plan to save Moss Beach Park after it was auctioned off to a Pacifica developer. Pictured: Rockey Raynor of the Boys and Girls Club, an unidentified employee of the San Mateo County Treasurer’s Office, and Supervisor Don Horsley.]

Dear Friends of Moss Beach Park,

It is with great enthusiasm that I report to the community on the most recent activities surrounding the Moss Beach Park. On Tuesday, September 10, the delinquent property tax was paid and the tax sale was officially canceled! None of this would have been possible without the generosity of Paul and Julie Shenkman, Sam’s Chowder House, and the Boys and Girls Club of the Coastside. When it was made known that in order to cancel the sale of the land, the outstanding property tax had to be paid, Paul and Julie Shenkman and Sam’s Chowder House generously volunteered to pay the tax bill. Because the Coastside Preservation and Recreation, Inc. (CP&R) had lost its non-profit status, the Boys and Girls Club of the Coastside accepted the Shenkman’s donation and wrote a check to the Tax Collector’s Office for the property tax. On Tuesday, Rocky Raynor of the Boys and Girls Club and I hand delivered the check to the Tax Collector’s Office. Yesterday, I spoke with the Tax Collector’s Office and was informed that the check is being processed and the sale is officially canceled. Please join me in thanking Paul and Julie Shenkman, Sam’s Chowder House, and the Boys and Girls Club of the Coastside.

Now that the property tax has been paid, the sale has been canceled, and the park is no longer in danger of being taken from the community, what’s next? The County is working hard to determine two things: 1) how do we indemnify the CP&R Board and 2) how do we make sure the transfer of land meets all legal requirements. I have asked the County Manager and County Counsel to draft a contract between the individual CP&R Board members and the County that will indemnify the individuals who have agreed to volunteer for the CP&R Board and provide liability coverage for the park. This contract will be brought to the CP&R Board members once completed.

With regards to the incorporation of the Moss Beach Park into the County Parks Department, it is our primary objective to ensure that this process is conducted appropriately and in accordance with the law. To date, we have learned that the CP&R Board is limited in their abilities to transfer the park as long as their status as a corporation is “suspended”. The County is in communication with the Secretary of State’s Office to determine what we can do to change CP&R’s status to “active” so the land can be legally transferred to the County. My office will continue to lead this effort until the Moss Beach Park can be incorporated by the County. The good news is that during this process, the park will not be in danger of being sold or lost.

With the property tax paid and the County providing liability coverage for the park, we have established a solid foundation that will protect the park and everyone involved while we work out the details of the land transfer. It is unknown at this point how long the process will take to incorporate the park into the County Park Department but we will keep the community involved as we go forward. Lastly, thank you for all of your involvement in this important community project. It has been my privilege to work with the Coastside community throughout this process.

Sincerely,

Don Horsley

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Merrilees: Thank you for saving Moss Beach Park

Two short weeks ago, our community experienced a shock when we found that the beloved Moss Beach children’s park had been sold to a developer. People came forward with help in a way that hasn’t occurred since the community came together to build the Park in the first place. In the last week:

The community came together and spoke. Too late for the issue to be placed on the agenda, the Midcoast Community Council invited concerned people to speak during public comment at the upcoming meeting. People were passionate and articulate in their support for the park. The Midcoast Community Council was an appropriate and useful conduit for advising the Board of Supervisors. Watch it on PacTV or Montarafog.com. Thank you MCC, and thank you to the members of our community for coming out to get something done.

Our District 3 Supervisor, Don Horsley, who was out of town at a meeting, cut his trip short to come back to work on the problem. Once back, he outlined a plan of action. He let us know that because the park was of benefit to the community, the sale could be cancelled within a sixty day grace period (as long as the back taxes were paid). He pledged to work through county government to change a long standing policy against owning community parks, and get the park accepted into county ownership. But he let the community know that we had to act fast, there were only two weeks left to cancel the sale. Thank you for your support Supervisor Horsely.
The generous owners of Sam’s Chowder House, Paul and Julie Shenkman, stepped forward with an offer to pay over $8,000 in back taxes, which allowed the tax collector to cancel the sale. We are lucky to have community members who are willing to go the extra mile for the benefit of others. Thank you Paul and Julie.

The Moss Beach park Board (CP&R) was not in condition to accept money. So the Boys and Girls Club of the Coastside held a meeting and voted to accept the payment as a non-profit donation, and send the money into the tax collector. By Tuesday afternoon, the taxes will have been paid. Thank you Boys and Girls Club for helping save a park in crisis.

As the years go by, it’s often the case that our community divides over one issue or another, putting friendships and alliances to the test, creating lasting scars. This last week was the opposite of that. In this crisis, everyone jumped in to help. Fast, and without controversy. It reinforces something I have long suspected about the people of the Coast. Although we can (and often do) fight like cats & dogs, we have been drawn to this place by common values, and deep down we care about much the same thing. Whatever happens in the future, lets not forget this moment, and the people who helped out

Neil Merrilees
Friends of Moss Beach Park

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Sam’s Chowder delivers $8000 check to Boys and Girls Club, tax bill on Moss Beach Park to be paid

Sam’s Chowder House has written and delivered a check for the full amount of tax due on the Moss Beach Park. The check, approximately $8000, was delivered to the Boys and Girls Club of the Coastside who will then pay the tax bill at the county.

Coastside Preservation and Recreation (the original owners of the park) is in the process of reforming and will not be able to renew its non-profit status until it files the appropriate forms and received approval from the Internal Revenue Service, a process that could take several months.

The tax bill on the the Moss Beach Park is due in seven days, on September 16. The Boys and Girls Club is said to intend to deliver the check to the county tomorrow.

The Moss Beach Park was accidentally sold by the county for failure to pay back taxes. The owners of Sam’s Chowder House stepped forward and offered to pay the entire bill.

Supervisor Don Horsley met with the community last week and laid out a step-by-step plan to get the park back and guarantee its future. By agreement with the county’s tax collector, the tax collector agreed to void the sale of the park on the condition that the tax bill was paid. Horsley originally intended the county itself to pay or waive the bill but that was deemed illegal by county counsel.

Once the tax bill is paid the next steps, according to the “Horsley Plan,” are for the non-profit Coastside Preservation and Recreation to reform and re-take ownership of the park. San Mateo County will then change its rules about parks, allowing the county to run “pocket parks” like the one at Moss Beach. Coastside Preservation and Recreation will then give the park to the county who will maintain it in perpetuity.

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Supervisor Horsley lays out plan to save Moss Beach Park

San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley addressed a crowd of over one hundred residents tonight at Farallone View Elementary laying out his plan to save Moss Beach Park and to put it under proper management in the future.

Horsley’s Plan, in short:

1) San Mateo County exercises its right to cancel the sale of Moss Beach Park to Pacifica developer Mike O’Connell.

2) The non-profit Coastside Preservation and Recreation re-forms under new leadership and re-assumes ownership of the park.

3) The $8,000 tax bill is paid from non-County sources.

4) Coastside Preservation and Recreation votes to give the park to the County.

5) The County Board of Supervisors vote to change their policy concerning park, allowing the County to own and operate “pocket parks.”

6) The County accepts the offer from Coastside Preservation and Recreation of the park, and maintains Moss Beach Park into perpetuity.

Timeline: Taxes paid by September 16, transfer of property completed by the end of the year.

For the details, here’s the video of the meeting, about fifty minutes long.

Click image to play video.

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Bill Hill, treasurer of Moss Beach Park non-profit, gives his side of the story, explains why property taxes weren’t paid

William “Bill” Hill is the treasurer of the non-profit Coastside Preservation and Recreation, the organization that built the Moss Beach Park and later failed to pay its property taxes.

Since the news broke that the county had, without apparently realizing it, sold the park to a Pacifica developer, and since the county has decided to void that sale and keep the land a park, Hill has been a topic of conversation.

As the person on the largely dormant board of directors with control of the purse strings, why did he not pay the property taxes? Why did he let the PO Box of the non-profit lapse? Is there money missing from the non-profit’s banking account?

In order to give Hill a chance to have his voice heard I sent him a list of eight questions related to the Moss Beach Park crisis and promised that I would print his response verbatim.

My questions appear first followed by Hill’s unedited comments.

 

Questions from Montara Fog to Bill Hill:

1)  Tell me about how you first got involved in the effort to build the park.

2)  Tell me about your role on the board of the park. Did the board stay active after the park was built or did it go dormant?

3)  Tell me about your role in trying to get a bathroom at the park. (I have the video of your presentation to the MWSD in 2009.)

4)  Was it your responsibility to file the non-profit status paperwork with the IRS and to maintain a PO Box? Why didn’t that happen?

5)  There have been suggestions that there was up to $50,000 in leftover funds in the parks account after the building phase was completed in 2004. Is that the right amount? How much is left now? What expenses has the park incurred since 2004?

6)  Did you have any knowledge of the park being sold at auction prior to the press reports being published?

7)  Have you been involved in efforts since the press announcement to challenge the auction?

8)  There are suggestions that the county or another entity such as MWSD should take over the park instead of the non-profit Coastside Preservation and Recreation. What are your thoughts–who should manage this park?

 

Bill Hill’s response:

I was invited to join the Board of CP&R in 1995. In those days, the park was mostly an open field, with a large swing structure, half of a geodesic dome climbing structure, a very tall steel slide, and a pile of giant tires for kids to climb on. The board met monthly, and our underlying goal was always to come up with a plan to improve the park. Most of the work that we did then consisted of mowing the field with our lawn tractor, and this task was mostly done by one of the other directors and I. We held occasional fund raisers that would net us several hundred dollars, and this was mostly used to pay for the chemical toilet we rented. This was our status quo until 2001, when we received a grant to purchase some play equipment. We bought a track slide, a tire swing, and a teeter totter. As I recall, we did not understand all that would be involved in installing these items, and flailed around for the better part of a couple years, finally getting the teeter totter in the ground. At about this time, one of our more visionary board members learned of an architectural firm that had developed a very successful program of community-built playgrounds. We contracted with Leathers and Associates and we all know the incredibly successful story of our playground.

The playground was completed in October of 2004, after an enormous effort on the part of a large cast of volunteers. At the time, there were six directors on the board of CP&R, and 4 of us were heavily involved in the playground effort. One of the other directors and I served as co-general coordinators of the project, managing a steering committee of 13 volunteers that was responsible for fundraising, solicitation of materials and construction volunteers, public relations, the feeding of the construction volunteers, the childcare that we provided during construction, and a couple other functions that escape me. This was all a function of us following the minutely detailed plan provided by Leathers and Associates; there is absolutely no way that we could have pulled off the construction of the park without their roadmap.

When the playground was completed, all of the core volunteers were literally exhausted, it had been a gargantuan task. All of the other board members elected to step away from CP&R to get back to their families, careers and lives. I chose to stay involved; at that point I had been helping to take care of the park for the better part of a decade, and I was not ready to stop. I became the self-appointed park guy, I kept the fields mowed, organized periodic work days, fixed things that needed fixing, and paid the bills. We had a chemical toilet, we had rented storage containers that held tools and building materials, we had a website, we had a lawn tractor that needed maintenance, there were just ongoing costs. At the end of the playground construction, we had approximately $15,000 left from our fundraising, and there was no fundraising moving forward, so this balance was steadily drawn down. We have incurred costs of a bit more than $17,000 in the last 9 years, and I have incrementally made up that difference.

One of my intentions that I had stated on many occasions was to somehow get San Mateo County to take over ownership of the park. While the community is to be enormously commended for funding and maintaining the amazing facility that Moss Beach Park is, THAT IS THE COUNTY’S RESPONSIBILITY. They are mandated to provide recreational facilities for us, and they collect money for that specific purpose. In 2008 (I think) CP&R’s non-profit status was revoked. The board had not met for several years, and the assorted forms that non-profits are required to file had not been filed. As the last man standing, yes, I suppose that it was my responsibility to do so, and it didn’t happen. Like all of us, I had and have life issues to deal with, and in those years especially, the park was not my first order of business. The major ramification of this status change was that the County raised our property tax from $50 to $1300. I elected to not pay this, because we could not afford it, and because I saw this an opportunity to compel the county to assume ownership of the park. My mistaken assumption was that the park was zoned as public space and therefore could not be anything but a park. This was not the case. In 2011 as a minor cost saving, I let go of CP&R’s PO box, using my address instead. I notified the assessor’s office of this address change. My first knowledge of the auction sale was a phone call from a company that specializes in restoring lapsed non-profit status – they track non-profits and had seen the sale of the park. A note here: interesting that the County did not post a notice of the impending auction in the park, nor did they announce this in the local legal classifieds, and they certainly made no effort to contact an owner when the auction notice was returned.

I have been only peripherally involved with the efforts to challenge the auction.

My first choice for what happens moving forward is that the County assume ownership. It is untenable to expect private citizens to undertake the maintenance and assume the liability of a public park on a long term basis. I know that MWSD has indicated a willingness to become involved, and I have heard that the El Granada Sanitary District is also considering taking on a recreational role. While there is certainly the possibility of a volunteer-based partnership to help with maintenance, after watching Moss Beach Park for many years, it is crystal clear to me that a public agency has to be the landlord.

I made a couple of really bad decisions that were not really mine to make, and I am unspeakably sorry for the chaos that has therefore ensued. I have given a chunk of my life over the past 18 years to Moss Beach Park; my children aside, there is nothing in my life that I am prouder of. At the same time that I am chagrined at all the furor of the past days, I am also extremely gratified to see the outpouring of support for the park that has sprung up.

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Montara water board hopes to acquire Moss Beach Park

Responding to the cancellation of the sale of the Moss Beach Park to a Pacifica developer, the Montara Water and Sanitary District hopes to acquire the park. Such an acquisition would represent an expansion of the responsibilities of the water board into “parks powers.”

MWSD currently has responsibility to supply water and sewage services in Montara and Moss Beach.

At their last meeting on August 29th, the board of the MWSD heard public comment related to the park and floated the idea of taking on responsibility for the parcel. Members of the governing board have also expressed a willingness to pay the back property taxes of approximately $8,000, although these comments were not well publicized and were made before the owners of Sam’s Chowder House also offered to pay the tax bill.

An broadly-worded item has been placed on the MWSD agenda for their meeting this Thursday, the day after County Supervisor’s meeting about Moss Beach Park at Farallone View Elementary School.

Contrasting park ownership by MWSD versus park ownership by the county, Kathryn Slater-Carter, a director on the board of MWSD, highlighted the value of local management:

MWSD is local. Our meetings are held in the community, at night, so residents can easily attend. We do not have parking meters [Editor: like the county’s parking deck] to penalize public participation. Our meetings are broadcast on Pacifica TV and are available as video on demand. Our staff is in Montara/Moss Beach. Our directors are responsible to the concerns of the folks who live here, because we do, too. We are selected by the voters here, not from anywhere else.

This new option of MWSD ownership is in addition to the existing two possibilities: That the park revert to its former ownership by the non-profit Coastside Preservation and Recreation or that San Mateo County take over the park.

All three options pose difficulties.

The board of Coastside Preservation and Recreation appears to be all but dormant. It was the failure of the non-profit to pay its property taxes (in addition to its failure to maintain its post office box and to file papers with the IRS to continue its non-profit status) which begat the local crisis.

Transferring the park to San Mateo County would eliminate the problem of paying property taxes in the future but residents have pointed out that it was San Mateo County’s failure to provide any recreational parks for the residents of Montara and Moss Beach that required the citizens to form a non-profit to provide those recreation opportunities on it own.

MWSD, for its part, presented a major difficulty and outright opposition [see this May 2009 article and video] to installing a bathroom and running water at the park. That opposition was eventually overcome (see June 2009  MWSD Resolution 1450) and the bathroom is nearing final approval.

A water and sewer authority may seem an unlikely candidate upon which to bestow parks powers but MWSD is not the first to attempt to enlarge its portfolio in this way. The Granada Sanitary District is making its second attempt to do so and, with little public awareness, is nearing approval to gain parks powers.

The legal authority for water boards’ expansion into park management seems to exist as a result of the California water code, which states:

31130. A district may use any water or land under its control for recreational purposes and in connection therewith may construct, maintain, and operate any works or facilities appropriate or ancillary to such recreational use; provided, that recreational use of water shall be subject to the approval of the public health authority having jurisdiction.

In addition, the law gives MWSD the power of eminent domain to pursue these responsibilities.

In the case of the Granada Sanitary District their board has, with very little press coverage (see here and here for what appears to be the full list of substantive coverage), been holding hearings and making progress toward parks responsibilities. They appear close to approval. GSD’s plans seem to include using the Burnham Strip as a parks area.

MWSD, however, has a more difficult challenge. Without the Moss Beach Park it is not clear what parcels are available to turn into parks under their jurisdiction. A tract of land behind Montara owned by CalTrans, formerly intended for a highway project that was eclipsed by the new Devil’s Slide Tunnel, offers one possibility. Another possibility is a tract of land adjacent to Farallone View Elementary School, formerly owned by developer Ken Menasco, though that parcel is steep in parts and contains a main channel of storm water flow.

Update: this two-page pdf of the minutes from a September 2002 Midcoast Community Council subcommittee meeting demonstrates the long-standing interest by MWSD in assuming parks powers.

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