INTRODUCTION
GROWTH PATTERNS | HOUSING AND POPULATION | LAND USE | ROAD NETWORK | REGULATORY FRAMEWORK


LOCATION

The Coastside Subregional Planning Project area is situated entirely within San Mateo County, covers a large portion of the coast range of the San Francisco Peninsula, and extends some 22 miles down the County's 55-mile coastline. Approximately 60 square miles in size, the area is defined at its northern boundary by the City of Pacifica, and at its southern boundary by the City of Half Moon Bay. The unincorporated Midcoast communities of Montara, Moss Beach, Princeton, El Granada and Miramar are situated between the two cities. The area's western edge is defined by the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean and the eastern edge by Skyline Ridge on the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains, separating the County into two distinct regions, the Coastside and the Bayside. The northern spur of the Santa Cruz Mountain range ends at San Pedro and Montara Mountains, where steep, rugged terrain descends nearly two thousand feet to the Pacific Ocean. This mountainous terrain provides a natural barrier between Pacifica and the Midcoast where gently sloping foothills eventually give way to the nearly level coastal terraces of Half Moon Bay.


HISTORIC GROWTH PATTERNS

While the level lands along the Bayside provided land speculators and industrialists with safe and easy access down the Peninsula via the San Francisco-San Jose Railroad beginning in the late 1800s, the geographic barriers of the Santa Cruz Mountains severely restricted access to and development of the Coastside. As a result, the area remained primarily agricultural until the period following the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.

The construction of the Ocean Shore Railroad at the turn of the century temporarily linked San Francisco with the Coastside and briefly stimulated development of several small residential communities. Following the 1906 earthquake, real estate speculators subdivided much of the Midcoast into small 25-foot wide lots and advertised the region as a safe alternative to San Francisco. However, little development actually took place during this period as San Francisco quickly rebuilt itself while engineering problems (compounded by the geologic havoc created by the earthquake) forced the Ocean Shore Railroad into bankruptcy. The failure of the railroad severely impacted the seasonal development that had taken place along the Midcoast and effectively precluded the level of development originally planned.

Following World War II, Pacifica experienced rapid residential development, which continued into the 1970s, establishing the City as a major bedroom community for thousands of workers commuting to San Francisco, the industrial areas to the south, and the nearby San Francisco Airport. During this period, the level of development along the Midcoast and in Half Moon Bay remained comparatively low for many of the same reasons that have hindered rapid development of these areas more recently: restricted and unreliable access and lack of available water and sewer utilities. Nonetheless, despite limited road and utility capacity, the decline of buildable land on the Bayside beginning in the early 1970s led to new residential development of the numerous vacant subdivided lots in Half Moon Bay and the Midcoast. Today, planned expansion of sewer and water services in Half Moon Bay and the Midcoast are expected to accommodate significant increases in the area's population over the next 20 years.


HOUSING AND POPULATION

As of 1995, the total population within the subregion was roughly 61,000 residents, with Pacifica's population of 39,000 accounting for nearly two thirds of the total. In 1995 the Midcoast communities had 11,500 residents, and Half Moon Bay had 10,100. Nearly one out of ten San Mateo County residents lives within the boundaries of the subregion. In 1995 the subregion contained approximately 21,000 households with roughly 13,500 units located in Pacifica, 4,000 units in the Midcoast, and 3,500 in Half Moon Bay.24

Based on ABAG projections for the period 2000 to 2020, total population in the subregion is projected to reach 80,000 residents. Populations in the Midcoast and Half Moon Bay combined are expected increase 50 percent during this period and lead all other cities in the County but one (City of Brisbane) in net population growth, net household growth, and net increase in the number of employed residents. (See Table A at right.) Between 2000 and 2020, four out of five additional residents settling in the subregion will live in either Half Moon Bay or the Midcoast. In contrast, Pacifica's population is projected to remain nearly stable during this same period with only a three percent growth rate.


LAND USE

The predominant land use in the developed area of the subregion is single family residential with limited multi-unit, apartment and mobile home development, except in areas of northern Pacifica where more concentrated multi-family unit development also exists. Retail commercial and visitor-serving commercial uses are primarily concentrated along the Highway 1 corridor and in Half Moon Bay's downtown district. Within the Midcoast, the Pillar Point Harbor and adjacent Miramar area contain a variety of restaurant and lodging facilities. The main industrial areas are situated in the Midcoast at the Half Moon Bay Airport and in Princeton where boat yards and other marine-related and storage activities support the fishing operations of the Pillar Point Harbor. Much of the remaining land is used for public recreation or open space and for agricultural operations.


TABLE A
Projected Population and Housing Growth
San Mateo County: 2000-2020

Population Households Employed Residents
Half Moon Bay
Brisbane

Midcoast
E. Palo Alto
Colma
S. San Francisco
Foster City
Woodside
Portola Valley
San Mateo
Daly City
Redwood City
San Carlos
Burlingame
Millbrae
52%
49%

47%
24%
17%
14%
10%
9%
9%
8%
7%
7%
7%
6%
5%
53%
50%

49%
29 &
19%
16%
12%
9%
9%
8%
8%
8%
8%
7%
7%
60%
63%

56%
32%
33%
21%
15%
18%
8%
13%
13%
14%
14%
6%
19%
Pacifica 3% 5% 9%

County Average 17% 19% 25%

Source: ABAG Projections '98



ROAD NETWORK

Highway 1 runs the entire length of the project area and is the primary roadway linking communities within the subregion. Northeast of Pacifica, Highway 1 turns inland and intersects Interstate 280 providing commuters with access to major employment centers in San Francisco and the northern Peninsula. At the southern end of the subregion in Half Moon Bay, Highway 92 provides the primary lateral access between Highway 1 and Interstate 280 and is the main route used by weekday commuters to the Bayside and daily visitors to the Coastside. To protect ocean and scenic views, Highways 1 and 92 are designated County Scenic Corridors outside the city limits of Half Moon Bay and Pacifica.

For several decades a rugged stretch of Highway 1 between Pacifica and the Midcoast known as Devil's Slide has dramatically affected local communities as a result of the roadway's repeated failure and consequent closings. The most recent extended closure of Highway 1 at Devil's Slide occurred in the winter of 1994-95 and effectively cut off the only link between Pacifica and the rest of the subregion for over six months. The closure created substantial economic hardship for many Coastside businesses, dramatically increased congestion within the subregion, and divided residents over what might be the best solution for permanently repairing the road. Ultimately, voters chose a tunnel as the best alternative. Today community activists, elected officials and transportation planners are working together to obtain the required permits and funding to get the tunnel built. In the meantime, road closures at Devil's Slide continue to disrupt mobility along Highway 1.

On Highway 92, the completion of an uphill slow vehicle lane between Half Moon Bay and Skyline Boulevard is expected to provide drivers with improved mobility at a level that is deemed acceptable by standards established in the San Mateo County Local Coastal Program.25 However, should traffic conditions further degrade in the future, additional widening could be considered.


LAND USE REGULATORY FRAMEWORK

With the exception of the lands east of Highway 1 in Pacifica, all of the urban area and much of the rural land within the subregion falls within the Coastal Zone as defined in the California Coastal Act of 1976. As a result, almost all land use is guided by state Coastal Act policies implemented by local governments through their respective Local Coastal Program (LCP) Land Use Plans. Similar to a general plan, an LCP is a comprehensive, long-term plan for land use and physical development in coastal areas consistent with Coastal Act policies. Pacifica, the Midcoast and Half Moon Bay are governed by separate LCPs, each already certified as conforming with the Coastal Act. General plan policies also address coastal development in Pacifica and the Midcoast.



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cl 07/16/99