Connect the Coastside:

Final Draft Released January 20, 2021


Connect the Coastside (CTC), San Mateo County’s Comprehensive Transportation Management Plan for our coast, was released on January 20, 2021 as a final public draft version. The Local Coastal Program (LCP) requires this plan to address the impact of residential development at LCP buildout on coastal accessibility by the public and to propose specific LCP policies designed to offset the adverse impacts on Highway 1, Highway 92 and relevant local streets. 

We are still reviewing this newly-released draft: CTC Final Admin Draft Plan 1/2021

Background: CTC plan is long overdue, suffering from a 4-year hiatus and is heavily reliant on 2014 traffic data. The 2020 draft did not attempt to move the initial outlook as it limits the future to 2040 instead of full buildout in the LCP. Furthermore, it does not include recognition of the City of Half Moon Bay traffic updates. This draft plan, using a faulty base, proposes how cumulative traffic impacts of residential development could be handled on Highway 1 and Highway 92. In a nutshell, regarding Highway 1 from Half Moon Bay to Montara/Lantos Tunnel, the draft plan recommends:

  • up to 14 new pedestrian crossings

  • 5 new traffic lights/roundabouts with a preference for roundabouts

  • Three of these traffic lights/roundabouts are proposed in Moss Beach on Highway 1 over a distance of approximately 1 mile, at 16th St, California Ave, and Cypress Ave. 

The draft plan attempts to mitigate some hazard and Level of Service (LOS) issues of increased traffic brought on by development. However, it does not include any assessment of evacuation concerns due to wildfire risk. It also does not adequately assess development impacts on neighborhood streets. 

Preliminary cost estimates for implementation are included and funding options are discussed. These estimates run up to tens of millions of dollars and are proposed to impact developers as well as current residents. However, the study notes that costs for land acquisitions, grading, retaining walls, watershed land/habitat mitigation, etc., are not included. 

NOTE: As of August 2020, San Mateo County has spent $768k of tax payer money on consultants to support the work on Connect the Coastside report, Source : Joe LaClair, Planning Manager, San Mateo County.


Our Response - January 2020 Draft

Read Midcoast ECO's comment letter - March 2021


Update and correct data:

  • Update 2014 traffic data and information using more recent studies.

  • Incorporate current buildout projections for both the Midcoast and Half Moon Bay.

  • Update lot retirement data to the current situation.

  • Audit and correct raw data as well as calculations across sections.

  • Assess full cost estimates of all major components of improvement options, including grading, land acquisition, watershed / habitat mitigation, etc.


Satisfy defined LCP requirements for a Comprehensive Transportation Management Plan:

  • Include policies for new residential development to mitigate significant adverse cumulative impacts on public access to the beaches. These include substantive lot retirement policy implementation plans, incorporation of information on sustainability given water, sewer, roads and other public works.

  • Include a final plan for lot merger, lot retirement and traffic mitigation fees, including County support for immediate implementation policies and enforcement.

  • Include evaluation of how traffic improvement options are designed to offset the demand for all new vehicle trips generated by new residential development on Highway 1, Highway 92, and relevant local streets.

  • Discuss the impact of buildout and the constrained 2040 development forecasts on local infrastructure, as the LCP clearly indicates that both forecasts exceed current water and wastewater treatment capacity.

  • Clearly state the cumulative impact that approved and planned large commercial and residential (multi-unit) projects will have on coastside traffic beyond that of buildout and 2040 development forecasts. 

  • Evaluate the impact of new development on Highway 1’s use for emergency and evacuation of residents and visitors in cases of local emergencies or disasters.

  • Outline how two separate CTC exercises (Half Moon Bay and Unincorporated San Mateo County Midcoast) will be integrated into one overall solution for the San Mateo County Coastside.

  • Contrast and depict the Delay Index, Level of Service, Traffic Flow analysis in the final report. To remove and replace a deficient measure (Delay Index) gives an inaccurate picture of the traffic problem on the Coastside.

In addition to outdated traffic data, significant buildout estimates have not been updated to more recent projections. The January 2020 draft also does not include the required specific LCP policy recommendations designed to offset adverse residential traffic impacts on coastal access. The draft also does not include policies for new residential development to mitigate significant adverse cumulative impacts on public access to the beaches of the Midcoast. Public input on this draft plan was accepted through August 2020. The County is expected to release a final draft in November 2020. The final plan will go through a review process for approval at the County level and then will require Coastal Commission certification. Stay tuned!

Connect the Coastside is Incomplete:
Outdated Data from 2014

The traffic data for CTC was gathered in 2014. Traffic has significantly increased on the coast in recent years, so 6 year-old data is not an appropriate guide. The current pandemic may also result in significant and long-lasting changes to coastside traffic patterns as well as to transit. Furthermore, evacuation plans for a major wildfire or other disaster are not included in the CTC. 


Process is being Rushed / Limited Public Participation

The CTC is being presented by the County in conjunction with MidPen Housing's massive Cypress Point project in Moss Beach. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the community and the Midcoast Community Council (MCC) have called for a postponement of major projects until in-person public participation can be assured and true sources of funds are known. But the County ignored these requests. The County’s virtual public meetings that were held in the Summer of 2020 were inadequate and lacked broad participation. Further, public input was time-limited and was not fully or accurately captured by facilitators who lacked knowledge of the San Mateo County coastside. Why is the Connect the Coastside process being rushed at a time when public participation is limited?


Moss Beach / Montara Corridor Proposals are Unsatisfactory:

Moss Beach is getting special attention in CTC as residents will have to deal with two large scale developments: Big Wave (large commercial office park already approved with an estimated 1500 daily car trips) and Cypress Point (proposed large scale housing development with an estimated 500 daily car trips). 


The Moss Beach corridor will be highly impacted by various CTC measures on Highway 1 and the County proposes to significantly alter Moss Beach neighborhood roads. The County has indicated in presentations that these proposals run in conjunction with the proposed Cypress Point development. However, significant pieces with high preliminary costs are projected to be beyond the 5 year window. Early feedback on these Midcoast roundabout vs traffic light options indicate incomplete analysis on feasibility from both Caltrans participation and consideration of water and sewer pipeline locations. Cost estimates and timing need to be reasonably credible and they are not in this draft. Why is the new and unapproved Cypress Point development driving the CTC section for Moss Beach and Montara? 


Where’s the Funding?

The January 2020 draft of Connect the Coastside includes cost estimates which are eye-popping, with no committed funding. Preliminary cost estimates run up to over $150 million. Funding options are discussed, however costs for land acquisitions, grading, retaining walls, etc., are not included. Furthermore, proposed measures divert current traffic flow onto neighborhood roads resulting in more Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT), increased congestion, unsafe neighborhood roads, and dangers for pedestrians. These options appear intended to provide mitigation for the significant traffic issues caused by MidPen’s Cypress Pt development; they offer little benefit to the current community and yet MidPen’s “fair share” of the required funding is undefined. Who will pay for these measures?


Buildout is not Sustainable

Connect the Coastside is presented as a plan to help mitigate the effects of buildout on the coast and maintain public accessibility. However, the Midcoast’s current Local Coastal Program (LCP) identifies that buildout as detailed is not sustainable. Half Moon Bay recognizes this in their recent LCP revision. In order to reduce the impact of buildout, a very significant piece of the CTC plan is to develop a lot-retirement program. Unfortunately, this program has not been initiated. In fact, recent changes to County regulations encourage Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), further increasing residential density and accelerating an unsustainable future. Expansion of public transit is another important goal but this, too, is stalled and unlikely to be addressed in this current pandemic outlook.


San Mateo County has introduced a new measure, Traffic Flow, as an alternative to Delay Index. The Delay Index (based on LOS) under build-out conditions in the draft CTC report from 2016 showed all RED from HMB to Montara. The revised Traffic Flow index provides the opportunity to calculate an "acceptable" index within the target range for parts of the Coastside under build-out conditions in 2040. This new measure allows conversion of the Red Delay Index color to mostly Green or Yellow.

Buildout Delay index.jpg

The majority of intersections and road segments along the Coastside are projected to become unacceptable by 2040 under build out conditions according to the 2016 Connect the Coastside study

Cumulative Impacts Map 10.2020.jpg