Plans to renovate Tunitas Creek Beach gained approval Tuesday, paving way for development of the county’s first beachfront park while respecting the area’s natural state.

“This is going to be a great asset to our parks, and to the people of San Mateo County and probably the people of the whole Bay Area,” said Supervisor Don Horsley during Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. “I think it’s going to be a place many, many families will enjoy.”

Having called the area, “sort of a disaster area,” Horsley praised the Parks Department and its partner Peninsula Open Space Trust for its vision plan.

In 2017, POST purchased the 58-acre beachfront property south of Martins Beach but north of San Gregorio for $5 million. The nonprofit sought $10 million in donations to fund both the purchase and restoration of the beach which would cost the county an additional $10 million over 10 years to manage.

Site renovations would involve limited development to preserve the natural state of the beach. Visitors will have access to a 1.5-mile loop trail, multiple overlook points, rest stops, a picnic area and additional overlook seating. Trail access will also feature Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations.

Paved parking will provide space for 65 cars including five ADA stalls, just off of Highway 1 as well as a bus loading and unloading zone and day parking for RVs. Bike parking will also be provided though suggested locations have not been identified.

“This being one of the jewels of the coast is going to end up being … a very popular destination,” said Supervisor Warren Slocum, primarily concerned for RV travelers up the coastline. “I think we need to be mindful of those travelers also.”

Recognizing the site’s vulnerability to sea level rise and bluff erosion, plans propose staging amenities higher up on the bluffs. A ranger station and restrooms located near the center of the bluff will also be moveable prefabricated structures, allowing the site to be reconfigured if need be.

The beach is also a nesting ground for the federally protected western snowy plovers, a small pale bird often disturbed by human beach activity, hindering the species ability to nest.

Interested in protecting the birds, the Parks Department has proposed installing a boardwalk around the nesting site that would allow visitors to observe from a safe distance while leaving the habitat undisturbed.

“I really like the way it’s relatively low touch on the site but yet you can have these different experiences,” said Supervisor Dave Pine. “I can’t wait to see this completed and to visit it.”

Additionally, programming would be developed to educate the public on the land’s native history, once used as a seasonal village by the Ohlone for centuries and as an ocean shore railroad site. Interpretive signs and an Indigenous Peoples land acknowledgement plaque will also be erected, detailing the area’s history.

Next, the proposal will undergo an environmental review. Additional community meetings will be hosted throughout 2021 with full design plans, specification and estimates being completed by the winter. Construction is slated to begin spring 2022 with a grand opening following in spring 2023.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 106

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