Letter: Stop Big Pave
The Big Pave Final Environmental Impact Review was just completed on Friday October 15. The public has just 12 days to comment on it - October 26 is the last day of the public review period. There’s no indication on the County’s website how to make a public comment - one might somehow infer they didn’t want to hear from the public. There are two ways you can voice your opinion:
1. Email [email protected] – that email address gets to all the planning commission members. Planner Camille Leung says that if you email her at [email protected] she will forward your response to the planning commission.
2. Speak at the planning meeting next Wednesday October 27 at 6pm at El Granada Elementary. You will get all of 3 minutes to speak. Use every second of it.
On Wednesday October 20, the staff report for this project will be released via snail mail. Camille says she will ask for permission to PDF it and send the PDF to the mailing list of interested parties, as the staff report will not be posted on the County’s website for technical reasons.
I urge you to go out to Airport Boulevard and see the story poles they erected for Big Pave. It made me very sad to see plans to erect such huge buildings in the middle of those fields. To deny that those buildings would be enormous and out of place is to deny reality.
I also urge you to both email your opinion of Big Pave to the Planning Commission and to speak at the planning meeting next Wednesday October 27 at 6pm at El Granada Elementary.
I’ve taken quite a bit of time to read through the EIR. It is simply amazing what people will do and say to get their way.
From ‘Topical Responses’ to the EIR
Parts of the Big Pave site are still considered ‘wetlands’ and are supposed to be protected under their plan. The ‘Wellness Center’ is sandwiched between the wetland buffer and the Airport Overlay (more on that later), tucked into the only part of that lot they consider ‘buildable’. Old maps show more wetlands on ‘a large portion’ of the Big Pave properties that are currently slated for development. Page 43 of ‘Topical Responses’ details that apparently, if you are a ‘farmer’, you can fill in all the wetlands on your property that you want with the County’s approval, then convert your farmland into commercial real estate. Conversely, if you are the City of Half Moon Bay and you fill in wetlands on private property, you loose $18M judgments.
The impact of Big Pave on visual character and scenic resources would be heartbreaking
On page 2 of ‘Topical Reponses’, Big Pave indicates even though it was not required to, it ‘has agreed to install story poles for all Wellness Center buildings and for one of the Office Park buildings.’ Mighty nice of them. Hope that didn’t break the bank. On page 17, they detail that in three of the four alternatives discussed, some or all office park buildings will be three stories high. Back on page 2, Big Pave concludes "the impact of the project on visual character and scenic resources would be less than significant". Yes, replacing a wetland on the Coast adjoining a marsh with a quarter million square feet of office space and 640 parking spaces may be ‘less than significant’ on scenic resources to anyone in San Mateo or Redwood City. To Coastsiders, the impacts on ‘visual character and scenic resources’ are devastating. On page 39, they detail that the ‘20-year office park completion timeframe’ ... ‘scenario, which appears the most likely based on current conditions…’ This is just fantastic. We’ll all be treated to 20 years of on and off construction that will have ‘no significant scenic impacts’. Perhaps our grandchildren see the completion of this project. Perhaps by then there will actually be a need for more commercial real estate, something anyone who reads a newspaper realizes we have far too much of now already.
Section 6326.2 of the San Mateo County code specifically prohibits "buildings or development used primarily by children or physically or mentally infirm persons in a tsunami inundation hazard area." (page 32, ‘Topical Reponses’). On page 29, Big Pave admits that "the Big [Pave] project remains in the [tsunami] hazard zone." They then detail the tsunami response: "As a response to a possible local source tsunami following a power local earthquake, staff and residents of the center should walk up Airport Street towards Cypress Avenue immediately following the earthquake, as a tsunami could arrive in a matter of just a few minutes. According to the latest inundation maps, the area north of the mobile home park and [sic]will be safe ground." Page 30 details that this walk would be "approximately 2500 feet"
The California Airport Land Use Planning Handbook ‘recommends ... prohibiting residential uses except on large, agricultural parcels and limiting nonresidential uses to activities which attract few people’ (page 45, ‘Topical Reponses’). Pages 44-45 read ‘although the project does propose structures within the airport overlay (AO) zoning district, the structures do not include residential uses or uses with three or more persons occupying the use at onetime, as consistent with the AO setback requirements.’ The fact is no one has mapped the exact boundaries for Zone 2 of the airport overlay for this airport (page 45). Big Pave has placed some airport boundaries on their plans as submitted. Big Pave has placed the Wellness Center residences and Office Park buildings just a few feet outside the airport overlay on their property – the parking lots for both Big Pave facilities are in the airport overlay. Page 49 reads ‘based on past cases, the FAA representative believes that the wellness center residents will complain about noise associated with the airport. Also based on past experience, the FAA representative states that the public policy reaction to the complaints will be proposals to impose additional restrictions on normal airport operations’
From ‘Introduction’ to the EIR
Wind turbines and carbonate fuel cells
‘Proposed utilities and service systems [at Big Pave] include…. solar cells for heating / energy; carbonate fuel cells…wind turbines and generators; geothermal cooling systems.’ Big Pave gives no details about the size of the wind turbines but the diagrams do place their locations toward the back of the property. I could find no details about the ‘carbonate fuel cells’ at Big Pave which isn’t surprising because there are apparently zero commercial installations of ‘carbonate fuel cells’ worldwide - these devices are so far at the ‘science fair’ or ‘Avatar’ stage of deployment. They might as well have proposed cold fusion reactors.
From ‘Changes to the Project Description’ to the EIR
page 19: ‘Prior to occupancy of any office park building, [Big Pave] will implement ... an off-site parking agreement and shuttle services to the Office Park (to accommodate a minimum of 50 cars and their drivers).’ ‘BW transportation would require one full time bus driver and 3 full time employees’.
How many office parks can afford their own shuttle service and off-site parking lot? Companies such as Google and Genentech can afford luxuries such as employee shuttle service because they are very large and very profitable. We’re lead to believe that even with 640 parking spaces, some of the imaginary employees of this unneeded and unwanted office park would park somewhere else and prefer to be shuttled to work. Exactly where will this single shuttle bus be shuttling to and from? Half Moon Bay? San Mateo? San Jose? The reality is Big Pave would get the shuttle bus operational in order to get their occupancy permit, then after not a single rider used the shuttle bus, a few weeks later they would terminate this service without penalty. But if they put this work of creative writing into the EIR and it gets them their approvals and occupancy permits, that’s clearly all that matters to them.
Lastly I should point out that Big Pave will require both Sewer and Water permits that they do not yet have.
Big Pave has the nerve to tell us that "the impact of the project on visual character and scenic resources would be less than significant". Nothing could be further from the truth. ‘The impact of the project on visual character and scenic resources’ would be devastating. The last thing the Coastside needs it a quarter million square feet of commercial real estate and 640 parking spaces built in wetlands next to the ocean.
Big Pave is building a "development used primarily by children or physically or mentally infirm persons in a tsunami inundation hazard area", which is clearly prohibited by County code. In response, they tell us it is reasonable to expect Big Pave residents - developmentally disabled adults and their caregivers - to run or walk half a mile after a major earthquake to avoid being killed in a tsunami. Seeing plans like this, one might infer that the people behind this project would literally say anything to get it approved.
Big Pave is building in the Airport Overlay zoning district, which ‘recommends ... prohibiting residential uses except on large, agricultural parcels and limiting nonresidential uses to activities which attract few people’. Another clear zoning violation. The FAA is already anticipating ‘[Big Pave] residents will complain about noise associated with the airport’ and ‘reaction to [noise] complaints [from Big Pave residents] will be proposals to impose additional restrictions on normal airport operations’
Big Pave has demonstrated many times on multiple levels that they will say literally anything, no matter how unrealistic or fictional, to get this unwanted and unnecessary project approved.
Telling Coastsiders that "the impact of the project on visual character and scenic resources would be less than significant" is nothing short of insulting. It makes me very sad to think someone may start a 20 year construction project to build a quarter of a million square feet of commercial real estate and 640 parking spaces in the middle of the wetlands next to the ocean.
Stop Big Pave.
I urge you to go out to Airport Boulevard and see the story poles they erected for Big Pave. I also urge you to both email your opinion of Big Pave to the Planning Commission and to speak at the planning meeting next Wednesday October 27 at 6pm at El Granada Elementary.