Who: 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.

What: 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.

Where: 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.

When: 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.


July 1995

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 1).

November 1995

Half Moon Bay voters pass a referendum requiring that the ordinance be repealed.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.

July 1999

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.

August 1999

Competing real estate developers (not environmentalists) appeal the project before the California Coastal Commission, where it has been tied up ever since.

September 1999

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.

December 2001

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.

March 2001

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.

March 2002

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.".

May 2002

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 to Wavecrest.

October 2002

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.

May 2003

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 CUSD.

June 2003

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).