Greenbelt Alliance’s signature At Risk is the definitive research on the Bay Area’s farms, ranches, and natural areas at risk of being lost forever to sprawl development. In an effort to bring these lands to the public view, we have real life stories told by the dedicated local residents who fight to keep them free from sprawl.
San Mateo County is the smallest county in the Bay Area, a narrow peninsula whose cities, below forested hills, are at the center of today’s tech economy. Despite its small size, San Mateo County has a considerable amount of land at risk: 22,700 acres total, about 8 percent of its land area. Of this, 4,700 acres are at high risk, likely to be developed within the next 10 years. Since our last report, the county’s amount of land at risk has increased by almost a third.
“I’ve been a surfer since I was a little kid,” says Edmundo Larenas. “Surfers are always looking for public access; but for many of us, environmental protection comes first.” As the chair of the local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation as well as a biochemist, Edmundo is a strong advocate for clean water. But clean water and the undeveloped open space it depends on—San Mateo County’s whole scenic coast—are threatened by a new plan in Half Moon Bay.
“Cities always want to do more development, and the city of Half Moon Bay has a long history of doing crazy stuff.” The city’s decisions can affect the county’s entire coastline—especially now that the city is updating its Local Coastal Program, a state-required plan to guide coastal development. The new draft of the plan would dramatically weaken wildlife and farming protections.
“We’re not anti-development, we just want it in the right places.”
But this plan would allow long slices of suburban development to cut through green cropland, from the shoreline to the hills. Coastal wetlands could also be at risk.
The wild beauty of San Mateo County’s coast, says Edmundo, “is not an accident. People purposely defended it from development over the years.” Unfortunately, the defense cannot rest.
Learn more and download the At Risk 201 7 report here.
Photos by Dani Padgett ©