Moss Beach

A Foster City nonprofit wants to build 71 affordable housing units in the wrong place, speakers told San Mateo County planning commissioners meeting Wednesday in Half Moon Bay.

Most of the more than 50 people who spoke opposed MidPen Housing developing the project 6 miles south of Half Moon Bay in Moss Beach at Carlos and Sierra streets.

Jeremiah Armstrong told commissioners he moved his family from Moss Beach to El Granada because of the development proposal. Carlos Street is too narrow to accommodate the additional residents, Armstrong said, and the development should not go forward at the site.

“That is not a safe place for 200 people,” he said.

Another coastside resident said the 11-acre property is too isolated for the proposed development.

“You’re on the moon out there,” he told commissioners.

The planning panel continued the meeting to a date not yet set.

The development won support from Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, whose district director spoke at the meeting held at the Half Moon Bay Library.

Mullin, in a letter to the county Planning Commission, said the Moss Beach land is one of only three sites in the midcoast designated for affordable housing — and the only property now available.

Andrew Bielak of MidPen Housing said at the Wednesday meeting that, “We’ve done a lot of work to get to where we are.”

“Affordable housing is just the start,” Bielak said.

After-school programs will be part of services provided at the development, he said.

Steve Monowitz, Community Development director for San Mateo County, said at the start of the meeting that the local coastal plan encouraged affordable housing so that the coast “did not become a place only for the privileged.”

The property has been designated for affordable housing since 1980 and existing zoning allows for 148 units, a San Mateo County staff report said.

Montara resident Gregg Dieguez, who opposes the development, told commissioners that the coastal water supply is limited but the county wants to add thousands of new residences.

“See the harm instead of checking off another box called ‘create affordable housing,’” he said.

The county should report on costs — including water and traffic — connected to development, said Dieguez, who cited the $4 billion in unfunded pension liability he said San Mateo County has incurred.

Attorney Brian Gaffney, representing the group Resist Density, said the county staff framed the issue as affordable housing.

“It’s much more than that,” Gaffney told commissioners.

San Mateo County has not adequately analyzed environmental impacts of the project, the attorney said, and an analysis of traffic impacts is flawed.

No law, said coastside resident Brandon Kwan, grants individuals the right to live in the zip code they prefer.

Opponents also said the isolated development site means residents will need cars to reach work, schools, health services and shopping — adding to their expenses. Only about half of the units are designated for people working or living on the coast, opponents added.

A single route is available to leave the coast if a disaster occurs, said speakers who cited the loss of life in the Paradise, California, fire in 2018.

Carl May recounted that affordable housing was available along the coast when he moved there in 1974 — and that since county involvement in development housing has become more costly.

Kelsey Banes with Peninsula for Everyone supported the development and said finding affordable housing in San Mateo County is like winning the lottery.

Alex Melendrez of the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County said units the Moss Beach development would provide are crucial.

“People needed these homes yesterday,” he told commissioners.

The Bay Area Council, a San Francisco-based public policy advocacy group, said in a letter to the county that the Moss Beach development should go forward but the density should be greater.

The council is concerned that the project does not maximize the site’s potential.

“The seven units per acre is a missed opportunity to deliver more units of much-needed affordable housing,” according to the council.

Palo Alto-based Committee for Green Foothills also backs the development.

Sixteen one-bedroom, 37 two-bedroom and 18 three-bedroom homes would be built, according to MidPen Housing. About 210 people are expected to occupy the units, which will be rented to households earning less than 80% of the area median income — which in 2019 was $124,000 for a family of four.

Dave Cresson, a past president of the Half Moon Bay History Association, has said the development site in Moss Beach was a military training center during World War II. He said almost no vestiges of the center, other than some concrete foundations, remain.

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(1) comment

Cindy Cornell

Everyone needs to step up in this housing crisis ... cities and towns are not oases that can escape it.

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