Moss Beach Park sale to be voided, “People’s Park” to be returned to the people

The sale of the Moss Beach Park to a Pacifica developer will be voided by the County, removing the threat to the “people’s park” that unexpectedly arose this past Monday when it was learned that the parcel had been sold at auction to recover unpaid back taxes.

Coastside Preservation and Recreation failed to pay its property taxes over the past six years, failed to renew its PO Box, and failed to file papers with the IRS to maintain its non-profit status. It’s failure to pay property tax led the County, as low-level, routine measure, to include it on a list of properties to be auctioned to pay back taxes. It does not appear that anyone at the county level realized that the land–identified only by it’s parcel number–was, in fact, a community park.

The County mailed a notice to the defunct PO Box which was returned and then posted a routine ad in the San Mateo County Times in order to fulfill its obligation to inform the public. However, on Thursday morning it was discovered that the photo used in the auction listing–which amounted to the only substantive description of the property in question–was of an unrelated property, raising doubt about whether proper notification of the public had been achieved.

In Thursday evening’s Half Moon Bay Review, Mark Noak wrote:

The property was put up for sale in July by a private online auction company, On Thursday, Montara Fog blogger Darin Boville pointed out the auction sale listed the Moss Beach Park by its parcel number, but it included a picture of a completely different property.

Beiers said all buyers on the auction site must agree to a disclaimer that the county can reverse the sale before the deed is recorded.

“The county doesn’t just reverse transactions unless there’s a good faith basis,” he said. “This may, in fact, be one of those circumstances.”

The County has a sixty-day review period after the auction to review each sale. In this case the County decided there are sufficient grounds to nullify the auction results. The auction was completed on July 23rd.

The crisis galvanized the community, which immediately took to letter writing and e-mailing and organizing to address this threat to the only recreational park in Montara and Moss Beach. On Wednesday night members of the community gathered at the beginning of the Midcoast Community Council meeting to vent their frustration and voice their desire to fight to save the park.

Pacifica Community television videotaped the meeting. Here I present the public comment portion–lasting about an hour–where citizens spoke about the park. I recorded this off the television in the most primitive manner possible–pointing the video camera at the TV screen–and you will see reflections in the screen from objects in my living room illuminated by the skylights. Nevertheless it serves as a powerful document demonstrating the resolve of Coastsiders, banding together to preserve their community.