County stops, and then allows, filling and grading at Big Wave
Two days after halting filling and grading on the southeast portion of the property [Google map] to be used by the proposed Big Wave project, the San Mateo County Planning and Building Division has sent a letter to the owners allowing the activity to proceed.
On Friday afternoon, Jim Eggemeyer, the county’s Development Review Services Manager, sent a letter to the property’s owner and his attorney, as well as the farmer who would be planting the property, saying the property was exempt from coastal district and grading regulations:
Preliminary research indicates that this issue was the subject of litigation in 1988, and a Superior Court judgment was rendered finding that routine agricultural activity on the property was exempt from both Coastal District Regulations and County Grading Regulations.
The county has asked that the farmer maintain a 100-foot buffer zone around wetlands on the property.
Based on our site inspection, none of the new soil deposited and spread so far is anywhere close to the wetland’s 100’ buffer. At our site inspection, we asked Mr. Iacopi to delineate the 100’ buffer boundary along the wetland’s entire length on both sides of Denniston Creek. We understand there are orange cones demarcating the boundary. Please maintain these cones during your growing season.
The wetland buffer was marked with orange cones on Thursday morning.
Alarms were raised Monday evening when a bulldozer was seen spreading truckloads of dirt on the property. The property is directly adjacent to the Pillar Point marsh. Vegetation had been removed in late 2004 or early 2005 with harrowing or deep discing.
Work continued Tuesday. Wednesday morning, at least seven large dump trucks brought in loads of soil about every ten minutes. The area being filled was lower than much of the rest of the Big Wave property. The fill dirt raised the level substantially.
The California Coastal Commission’s enforcement division began looking into the matter on Tuesday, and made contact with Gary Warren of San Mateo County’s Code Enforcement office.
Wednesday morning, Sheriff’s deputies requested that the bulldozer operator and a farmer who was on-site halt their activities until code enforcement arrived. Mr. Warren arrived at the site and issued a stop work order. The bulldozer was loaded onto a truck and removed from the site Wednesday afternoon. The farmer reportedly told officers that he was trucking in the soil to mix with the existing soil to grow pumpkins for Pumpkin Festival season.
Click the link to see copy of the county’s letter.
Messrs. Byers, Barber, and Iacopi:
San Mateo County Planning and Building Division issued a stop work notice Wednesday, 6/21/06, regarding the activities occurring out on APNs O47-312-040 and 047-311-060 (a.k.a. the "Big Wave" property) near the Half Moon Bay Airport in response to an allegation that there was grading occurring without a grading permit. During the last two days we have investigated this situation, made a site inspection and determined the following:
1. Historically this property has been farmed, and this farming may continue as a legal non-conforming use. Preliminary research indicates that this issue was the subject of litigation in 1988, and a Superior Court judgment was rendered finding that routine agricultural activity on the property was exempt from both Coastal District Regulations and County Grading Regulations.
2. The new soil that has been brought onto the site is for spreading, soil blending & enrichment purposes for the upcoming pea/bean planting. It is not associated with the pending Big Wave project. This activity is exempt under Section 8603.12 of the County Ordinance Code regarding routine agricultural activities. In addition as stated above, it appears that a Superior Court judgment made the same determination on similar facts in 1988.
3. Coastal Development Permit or Exemption for this activity - Once again, it appears that a Superior Court judgment rendered routine agricultural activities on the property as exempt from Coastal District Regulations.
4. Sensitive Habitat/Wetland Buffers - Based on our discussions and site inspection (Thursday morning, 6/22/06) we understand it has been Mr. Iacopi’s (farmer) intent to spread and enrich the soil throughout the extent of the arable lands. Based on our site inspection, none of the new soil deposited and spread so far is anywhere close to the wetland’s 100’ buffer. At our site inspection, we asked Mr. Iacopi to delineate the 100’ buffer boundary along the wetland’s entire length on both sides of Denniston Creek. We understand there are orange cones demarcating the boundary. Please maintain these cones during your growing season.
Based on the results of our investigation, we are lifting our stop work notice. While LCP Policy 7.19 allows agricultural uses in the wetland 100’ buffer zones, it assumes that such use produces no impacts on the adjacent wetlands. No work is permitted in the wetland buffer zone until such time as you have consulted with Mr. Tim Frahm of the Resource Conservation District (RCD) for their recommendation and submitted your proposed intentions and any mitigation measures recommended by the RCD you propose to implement. San Mateo County Planning and Building staff will then make a determination if your proposal complies with LCP Policy 7.19. and notify you of our decision before you may proceed.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I can be reached at 650/363-1930.
cc: Mr. Iacopi (by fax)