Wavecrest Partners is a partnership between Ocean Colony Partners
(developers of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and the Ocean Colony gated
community) and the Plumbers & Steamfitters Local Union 467.
The Cabrillo Unified School District school board are co-applicants
before the Coastal Commission.
At this point in time, the proposed Wavecrest Village housing
development includes 279 new homes, including 54 affordable income
units and a 21-acre new middle school to be situated on the western
edge of Highway 1 south of town.
Wavecrest is located on the west side of Highway 1, roughly at
the southern end of Main Street (across the highway from Johnston
House) on 200 acres of open space, the only remaining coastal
open space south of downtown Half Moon Bay.
In 1999, real estate developers (not environmentalists)
appealed Wavecrest to the California Coastal Commission. The project
has been in limbo ever since, mainly due to incomplete/compromised
wetlands analysis and major unresolved issues such as drainage,
run-off and traffic impact. Even if approved sometime in the next
year or two, additional permitting at other state and federal
agencies would at minimum take another year.
Half Moon Bay's city council passes
an ordinance approving and adopting originally proposed Wavecrest
project. This project, located south of downtown and west of Highway
1, includes 750 market-rate houses and a golf course (the developer
already owns two golf courses surrounded by a gated community
and the new Ritz-Carlton a little farther south along Highway
Half Moon Bay voters pass a referendum
requiring that the ordinance be repealed. This is also the start
of a significant shift in local politics, away from a pro-development,
pro-growth orientation to a slower, planned growth vision that
encourages a dense downtown community, rather than suburban sprawl;
biking and walking, rather than constant car trips up and down
Highway 1; preservation of irreplaceable coastal resources, birds
and other wildlife; the maintenance of Half Moon Bay's unique
rural character, open space, recreational/environmental bounty.
People travel from great distances just to glimpse our vistas,
breathe our air, enjoy our downtown's ambiance. Most citizens
of the Coastside want and deserve no less.
After asking for and receiving
a set of developer considerations, such as space for a new middle
school, a Boys and Girls Club, five ball fields and 70 acres of
open space, City Council approves a newly configured Wavecrest
Village. This one calls for 225 market-rate units and 54 units
of affordable units of housing, divided between two tracts, one
to the north and one to south of the development. The plan also
includes 18 acres of commercial/retail space (roughly three times
the size of our current downtown.)
At one single meeting, city councilors
grant a coastal development permit, a vesting tentative map and
enter a binding development agreement. However, there appear to
be several "mutual mistakes in fact."
For example, at the time wetlands
had not been properly delineated. Also, at the time, CUSD still
provided busing to school, which mitigated traffic congestion
on Highway 1, a service that has since been eliminated by the
school district for budgetary reasons.
Finally, lawyers quietly remove
a key provision requiring that final action on the project's Coastal
Development Permit precede the awarding of any new home development
allocations under the city growth ordinance. Wavecrest Partners
has been collecting coveted Measure A certificates ever since.
Competing real estate developers
(not environmentalists) appeal the project before the California
Coastal Commission, where it has been tied up ever since.
The California Coastal Commission
discovers that Wavecrest Partners have quietly installed a drainage
pipe in order to dry up wetlands and pass obligatory Environmental
Impact Report inspections. The state commission finds that
substantial issues are unresolved relative to the project and
assumes jurisdiction. The project is now out of local hands.
The California Coastal Commission
declines to consider Wavecrest approval because wetlands studies
are inadequate. According to the Coastal Commission staff, biological
studies still have not been satisfactorily completed.
Wavecrest Partners submits yet
another iteration of their commercial/retail/housing project,
based on requirements put forth by the CCC. The new development
includes a total of 190 market rate homes and 54 affordable units,
mostly located as apartments over commercial space. Most significantly,
this version eliminates the whole southern tract, where wetlands
have been delineated, moving all the units to the northern section,
thus doubling the density of housing and cutting lots sizes in
half. There is only one road into and out of the project.
The Coastal Commission hears public
testimony against Wavecrest at a public hearing in Monterey. At
this point, the Sierra Club and other major environmental organizations
become increasingly vocal opponents and designate Wavecrest one
of their "Great Coastal Places.".
Parents and other citizens concerned
with CUSD's stalled middle school progress speak at a school board
hearing on the site issue. They urge CUSD Board of Trustees to
consider revamping Cunha at its current site. Board members dismiss
the suggestion as a "fringe" point of view. Frustrated,
citizens went out and gathered more than 1350 signatures in five
days and presented them to the school board as proof of the idea's
wide community appeal. The school board reaffirms its commitment
Yet another, substantially altered,
iteration of the Wavecrest Village project, eliminating the commercial
element and relocating the middle school to a site on Highway
1, is unveiled through an ad in the Half Moon Bay Review. City
Council is not formally notified of the redesign and as of June
2003, Coastal Commission staff report that a new version of the
official project has not yet been submitted for consideration.
A full year passes without any
progress at all on Wavecrest. California Coastal Commission staff
report that they are awaiting additional biological analysis,
which Wavecrest Partners has so far declined to provide. Meanwhile,
two springtime efforts to pass a parcel tax fail by a narrow margin
-- swing voters perhaps who have cast a no-confidence vote against
The community rallies behind its
downtown with a historic block party to celebrate and support
Cunha's Country Store, which has been razed in a fire. With plans
for a newly rebuilt Cunha's, a planned $18 million library expansion
and the creation of a new Pilarcitos Creek Trail connecting Main
Street to Strawflower Village (with plans for a final link down
to the coastal trail), Half Moon Bay's downtown core is looking
stronger than ever -- and could be crowned with the jewel of a
fabulous new Cunha campus on which construction could begin now.
The Half Moon Bay Review published
an overview of the Wavecrest project in this
article (20 March 2002).