Video: Montara workshop on 7-unit subdivision near Farallone View

Posted by on Tue, March 20, 2007

A developer who wants to subdivide a lot next to Farallone View Elementary met with community members Monday night.  We have video of the meeting.  width= | Quicktime | Flash |

There’s also a great deal of information, including the history of the application, on the county’s Online Permit Center.

I’m still shaking my head from that meeting last night.  Ten minutes into the meeting, it was obvious the developer had zero expectation of ever building on the land.  After getting stuck with property he knew he couldn’t build on, he was attempting to sell the property to residents, eager to protect the land.  Did he really think that a third-rate bait and switch move was going to work on the Montara crowd?  All I can say is “ouch”.

This was a very interesting meeting on many levels. It was clear that Ken Menasco (the developer) came to this gathering of the community to discuss his proposed project not only unprepared but uninformed. This did not go down well with the very well prepared and very well informed crowd of locals who had given up their evening to attend. He (Menasco) made very weak arguments in support of his plans, the main one seemed to be that he deserved a healthy return on his land investment.

It became crystal clear as the evening progressed that he had no real idea about, or had given any significant thought to, important issues such as water, sewerage, fire access, traffic, environmental or storm water drainage for the project. He was subsequently made to look very foolish by a crowd which contained local experts on many of these subjects.

My take is that Ken Menasco has made a bad investment choice, a choice he will have to live with. It would be even more foolish of him to pursue any further the idea of building anything on this totally unsuitable piece of land. Local resistance to this project is huge, passionate and focused.

Do yourself a favor Ken, go talk to POST see if they will buy it from you or give it to the community as a tax write off.

Thanks to Coastsider and Darin Boville for covering this issue and taking video footage so those who could not attend can share in the meeting.


I’d give this video 3 out 4 stars.  Still trying to figure out which is the funnier of the two - the developer or the self-important “local experts.”  Like they say “Nice neighborhood, except for the neighbors.”

Why get so worked up about something that will never be built?

Best line of the night - “This community is not anti-development.”  That is a true classic.


Do you live in Montara? If you do, I can’t understand how you can be so flip about this issue.

I fail to see the funny side of a community banding together to protect the environment that they live in from unscrupulous developers out to make a fast buck on a bad investment. And yes some of those people are bona fide experts (a Montara Water Board Official and a Traffic Engineer of 30 years standing to name two) both Montara residents.

I’m sure you would get ‘worked up’ if someone was trying to build a new road and seven very large houses literally in your back yard. And you are right, this will never get built, because the community won’t allow it to be built. That what communities do, they band together behind a common belief. If all people took your passive attitude we would be living in shopping malls on the coast by now.

If you have something intelligent to say then go ahead, otherwise please keep your sarcastic remarks to yourself, I’m sure I speak for most of the Montara residents who attended that meeting.



Thanks for the compliment.  We are not anti-development: we have a history of supporting appropriate development.

Our Midcoast community remains a beautiful place because of the long history of actions by community members who insist that the laws be applied in an even handed fashion taking into account neighbors and the environment as well as developers. 

I think the insistence of the developer in calling the 20 ft wide creek a “drainage ditch”  revealed the distance between the communtity and Mr. Menasco.  So were his comments on water, roads and flooding.  I suggest anyone reading this who has not seen the vido take a little while and watch it. 

It appears the county planning dept. is quite unaware of the ‘on-the-ground’ conditions in this community.


All real estate investment is speculation.  And what speculation means is that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.  But for some reason real estate speculators seem to think that they receive a guarantee of profit with the deed to their new property.  There’s a reason why Ken was able to acquire that property at such a low price—the seller had to have known that it was undevelopable or nearly so.  But in typical developer style, he thinks that he can bully his way through to making money on a property that in his heart he knows he never should have purchased in the first place.

I’m convinced that this proposal is similar to others we’ve seen here before—a scare tactic to get the public to find some agency to buy the land.

Some observations:

- A great show of what a community can do when people are united and come to a public meeting having done their homework. Wish we had more of that kind of spirit down here in developer-friendly HMB.

- There is no question that the project (if it moves forward) will require an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). There is the potential for numerous significant environmental impacts—most of which cannot possibly be adequately mitigated (destruction of a creek and sensitive habitat for endangered species, an increase in existing flooding problems from storm water runoff, increased traffic connecting to Hwy 1 on a substandard road, etc.)

- The project would also require a County General Plan amendment to change the land use designation from “institutional” to “residential.” This alone might be enough to trigger an EIR.

- In HMB, this project would be appealable to the California Coastal Commission because it is within 100 feet of a creek. I’m not sure what the County LCP says about this.

- It would interesting to see the Coastal Commission staff report for the 1990 incarnation of this project. It seems as though some members of the audience had read that document.

- The developer (who is also a realtor) kept saying he wanted to obtain “the highest and best use for the property”—-as defined by him of course, and regardless of what the law might say.

- Leonard Woren’s comments about developers trying to turn creeks into drainage dithes and then turn ditches into culverts were very well-stated. Developers like to call creeks “drainage ditches” so they can build on them or near them. It’s how the LA River became encased in concrete. What do creeks do? They allow water to drain from the mountains to the Ocean.

- Steven Lowens did a nice job of pointing out the lunacy of adding runoff from 7 new houses and 7 new driveways and a new paved road into an area that is already a flooding disaster (see link below).

- Who caused the existing Montara flooding problems? The County Planning Department of course, by approving the building of hundreds of new houses over the years with zero analysis of the cumulative impact on stormwater runoff. It would seem that the affected homeowners of Montara have a strong case for a class-action suit against the County to fix the flooding problems created by this negligence.

- The same kind of community outrage is needed to stop the Board of Supervisor’s plan to double the number of houses in the MidCoast in coming decades as part of their pro-development LCP update project.