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Cumulative Effects

A major concern for Midcoast ECO is how all of the proposed and newly-approved projects will impact traffic and road safety, water and   wastewater facilities, disaster preparedness, the environment, the semi-rural nature of the Midcoast and accessibility for visitors who seek out the natural beauty of our coast. Who is looking at the big picture?

How much building can our infrastructure support? The San Mateo County Midcoast is unique in that we have only one road in, through and out, with no alternative routes. Decades ago, voters county-wide chose to preserve the coast by voting against efforts to build freeway access in favor of a more limited tunnel through Montara Mountain.

Cumulative Impacts Map 10.2020.jpg

In addition, thanks to the efforts of POST and the advocacy of local organizations and community members, hundreds of acres of coastal land have been preserved on the Midcoast as open space. These factors have limited growth and the expansion of public works as well as jobs, thereby constraining the size and types of building projects that make sense for our small coastside communities.

With Highway 1 as the ONLY road that offers access and exit and the ever-increasing influx of tourists and visitors (now over 3 million per year), further escalation of residential density through the Montara to Half Moon Bay corridors threatens our coastal environment and limits its accessibility.


The Midcoast Local Coastal Program (LCP) clearly indicates that our water and sewer systems do not have the capacity to support even a “constrained” development forecast. Age and recent catastrophic failure of our sewer infrastructure has added financial and legal risk. The cumulative effects of large building projects in this area are not being adequately addressed in light of its fixed infrastructure. This danger is further compounded by the looming probability of rising seas, wildfire risks, and earthquakes.

Current List of Large Projects on the Coast

Large projects at different planning / approval stages will significantly worsen the traffic and stress the infrastructure situation on the Coast and Highway 1. Projects being proposed and already approved reveal that there is a lack of consideration for the total effect of all these projects:


  • 1 Hotel in Montara - 22 units, 3 stories (7th and Main Sts)


Moss Beach

  • Big Wave: Total of 8 buildings including up to 57 residential units and a large Office Park (the 5 office buildings alone equate the size of 1.5 Walmarts) plus housing, boat storage, parking for approx 500 cars

  • MidPen: 71-unit housing project across from the Montara Lighthouse

  • Multiplex: 8 units

  • Mixed use - Commercial and 2 residential units

El Granada

  • RV park - 50 sites (Harbor Village - corner of Capistrano and Hwy 1)

  • Harbor View Inn expansion - add 15 rooms plus conference room

  • Mavericks Multiplex - 12 units (completed 2017)

  • Plan Princeton - Zoning update that may reduce density (more open space and potentially lower building height) but might attract more tourists / traffic.

Half Moon Bay

  • Dunes Beach Hotel / Surf Beach RV Park: 200+ room hotel, 15,000 sf conference center, 170+ space RV park located at Young Ave and HWY 1

  • Rocket Farms Housing: 304 Rental Units across from proposed Dunes Beach project

  • Pacific Ridge: Residential project next to Half Moon Bay High School with 63 homes   

  • Podesta Planned Unit Development: 34.5 acres slated for residential pilot program, at intersection of northern end of Main Street and HWY 1

  • Best Western Hotel: 46 Rooms south of 92 on HWY 1 (completed 2018)

  • Hyatt Hotel: 141 Rooms with Conference Center plus 2,700 SF retail building and 195 parking spots, located at southern gateway of Half Moon Bay at Main Street and HWY1

Traffic is choking the coast. There are no alternate routes - We have one road in, through and out.

HWY 1 suffers major traffic congestion

Safety is a key concern. With increased traffic since the Lantos tunnel in Pacifica opened in 2013, access to the coast has diminished.

Plus the annual infill of homes, second units, and approximately 3 million visitors to the Coastside per year.

We must promote sensible planning to ensure a sustainable future for the Midcoast!

Currently, the approval process for large development projects lacks coordination and consistency. The Midcoast is impacted by factors beyond the Midcoast itself to include Half Moon Bay and ever-increasing visitor traffic. A cumulative view of impacts on the ecological environment and public works infrastructure is necessary. Without consideration of the bigger picture, approval of large development projects will dramatically increase traffic, pollution, and place additional environmental stress on the coastal community and contribute its breakdown. 

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Cumulative Impacts of Large Developments & Influx of Visitors:
Our Recommendations
  • Ecological impacts of large development projects are significant. Environmental impact studies must be thorough and consider cumulative impacts for each and every large project. 

  • Rising sea levels, the threat of wildfire, as well as potential earthquake disaster must be factored into evaluating and forecasting our resources. Climate change is a continuously evolving phenomenon. Its effects must be kept up to date and considered in all decision-making.

  • Building projects must all be considered on a cumulative basis to understand what the impacts will be on existing and probable future capacity and reliability of all public works facilities. 

  • Guidelines for cost and funding estimates of infrastructure improvements must be established and transparent. Guidelines for comprehensive evaluation of project proposals must include financial mitigations for burdens they cause, including the impact of increased visitor traffic. Midcoast residents cannot shoulder the financial burden alone. 

  • Accessibility is already a major problem. What are the impacts of these developments on accessibility and circulation? Guidelines for evaluation must be clear.

  • Quality of life and the continuation of the precious coastal character must be protected.

  • Growth management limitations must be implemented to offset detrimental impacts.

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