At the Half Moon Bay Planning Commission meeting last week, the town unveiled plans for its new home for the Public Works Department, a business yard on the 21-acre lot at 880 Stone Road. Pine.
The proposed development will cost approximately $ 3 million and is intended to clean up the haphazard array of shipping containers and stored equipment as well as modernize the offices of Public Works employees. Much of the development centers on erecting a 6,750-square-foot spring structure, a 24-foot-tall, aluminum-framed, prefabricated building to store town tools and equipment.
Superintendent of Public Works Todd Seeley estimated the building could last 35 to 40 years. The city will construct a changing room and restroom inside the building, making the facility ADA compliant, Seeley said.
The first part of the project is expected to begin in spring 2022 and will consist of reconfiguring the two unpaved access roads into a wider two-way driveway. Public Works Director John Doughty said the proposed development was welcome to the town as it had struggled for “some time” to find an adequate yard for storage that was properly zoned and would not disturb residents.
“I think with the 880 Stone Pine property, we threaded the needle as best we could in the community,” Doughty told the Planning Commission on Aug. 24.
There are two environmentally sensitive areas on the property. The first is a pond on the north side of the property that has been identified as a breeding ground for California Red-legged Frogs, an endangered species protected by the federal government. The lot also borders Pilarcitos Creek and will require a riparian buffer zone for a wildlife corridor. Both of these factors mean the city will need a peer-reviewed environmental report under the California Environmental Quality Act.
Senior planner Doug Garrison said some of the issues outlined in a previous biological report would not apply to this development, as it took place before the city adopted its current coastal land use plan and refined the scope of development. Therefore, Garrison told the commission, the report required a 50-foot riparian buffer zone and a 100-foot buffer wetland. The new PUT includes potentially broader riparian buffer zone requirements. Specifically, the buffer zone should be 50 feet from the edge of riparian vegetation or 100 feet from the top of the shoreline stream, whichever is greater. The city hired SWCA environmental consultants to help with this process and conduct a peer review of the report.
The Public Works Department’s waste and recycling containers are currently in the middle of the riparian area, and Seeley said he plans to move them as soon as possible and get adequate stormwater drainage. Seeley described the current display of storage facilities as “unsustainable and unsightly.” Some of the steel containers are rusting or have holes in them.
Trees are another environmental factor. The city granted PG&E a coastal development permit to remove 11 trees located along the edge of Highway 92 from the lot while simultaneously asking them to fund 33 new trees on the property.
Last month, city council authorized spending of $ 184,500 to develop a three-phase construction plan to upgrade storage, road access toilets and fencing. A staff report notes the possibility of installing a 3.25-acre solar farm and community garden, but it’s unclear how much that would cost or when it might happen.
“With the conceptual design that we are looking at, it will be an advantage and an environmental benefit in terms of treating stormwater and removing elements from areas too close to the creek,” Doughty said.
The city has had a complicated history with ownership. In 2004, the city paid Nurserymen’s Exchange $ 3.1 million for the lot through an interest-free loan from the Peninsula Open Space Trust. Originally, the city intended to use the area as a new park and conceptualized plans for a soccer field and community garden. But those plans were scrapped in 2009 due to concerns about the rising costs of the proposed fleet. A design firm estimated a price tag of $ 14.5 million. POST kept the property while leasing the land to the city for the public works department.
POST announced its intention to sell in 2018 and prioritized the city. Last January, the city bought the land from POST, this time for $ 2.1 million. To make the payment, the city borrowed $ 3.2 million from the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank, or iBank, to pay for and develop the land. The city plans to repay the loan in annual installments of $ 160,000 over the next 30 years.
The city will reach out to surrounding neighbors and at some point hold a public hearing through the Planning Commission. Garrison called the project a significant improvement in the city’s public safety.
“It’s an important part of how we respond to an emergency,” he said. “It will be good to have it a little more organized and an all-season road. This fits into our policies in a number of ways.