San Mateo County will acquire more than 5 acres of unincorporated coastal land from a local nonprofit, furthering hopes from locals for the development of a community center and providing protections to sensitive habitats.
“I like the idea of the county controlling this land being that it’s in such a sensitive area and the county would do a good job of protecting those sensitive areas,” Planning Commissioner Manuel Ramirez said during a commission meeting Wednesday morning.
The 5.28-acre land in question is located along Airport Street in unincorporated Princeton, neighboring Moss Beach. To the east of the site is the Half Moon Bay Airport with the Pillar Point Headlands and Pillar Point Marsh to the west.
The county will be taking over the southern parcel from Big Wave Group with intentions to expand the boundaries of Pillar Point Marsh while providing protection for agricultural, natural and cultural resources on the land.
“There’s a possibility for compatible uses no matter how the county uses the property,” Community Development Director Steve Monowitz said. “We want to keep the door open to other uses that might serve the community.”
Officials will also consider the possibility of developing a community center or nature center at the site, county project planner Camille Leung said. Any future projects or uses on the site would require appropriate permits and would undergo county and community review, Monowitz said.
He told commissioners that there have been long-standing interests in establishing a community center in the area but not specifically on the 5-acre parcel because the land wasn’t considered “on the table.”
The county will still be responsible for ensuring environmental impact mitigations included in the approval of the Big Wave Project are realized on the south parcel, Monowitz said. Responding to questions related to water sources by Commission Chair Lisa Ketcham, Monowitz noted waterlines would also need to be extended into the south parcel from the north parcel if a development were to be placed on the land.
Commissioners ultimately shared unanimous support for the acquisition with Commissioner Mario Santacruz absent, finding it conformed to the county’s General Plan and sharing strong support for a potential community center in the area.
“It looks like a good project to me and I’m glad the county is proactively protecting these areas in some ways so that we are not just building things or doing things without thinking it through,” Commissioner Kumkum Gupta said.