POST is buying Wavecrest

Breaking news

Posted by on Thu, August 16, 2007

The Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) announced today that it has reached an agreement with the owners of Wavecrest to purchase the contentious site.

Wavecrest is a 216 acre property located at the southern end of Half Moon Bay, between Highway 1 and the ocean. "Wavecrest is a breathtaking window to the Pacific Ocean," said Audrey Rust, president and CEO of POST, in the press release. "This agreement will help preserve the rural coastside character of the Half Moon Bay area for countless generations to come."

Wavecrest has been planned for development since 1947, but the current era began in 1995 [timeline] and picked up steam when the school district decided to build a new middle school on the site. The site was the center of wrangling between pro-development and slow-growth forces until November 2005, when the district finally acknowledged that it couldn't afford to build there. However, the real blow to Wavecrest came a year earlier in August 2004 when the site was determined by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to be California red-legged frog habitat. The project became mired in the federal endangered species habitat process. It became clear that the site was a long way from being developable, regardless of what happened in Half Moon Bay.

"Economic considerations, environmental concerns and community input led the sellers to approach POST about purchasing this land," Bruce Russell, CEO of Kenmark Real Estate Group and representative of the land’s sellers, said in the same release. "It’s the best plan for all parties involved, including the sellers, the city, residents and visitors. The community can enjoy the land for recreation today and in the years to come while protecting a unique natural environment."

POST noted the recreational qualities of the site. It's a link on the California Coastal Trail. It is also the site of the Smith Field ballfields, which the city has been leasing from the owners.

Three views of Wavecrest

Wavecrest is so big that it's difficult to represent in a single picture. Here we see the site from directly above in a satellite shot, photographed from the air over the ocean, and as the owners envisioned its development in 2004.

Google Maps
Wavecrest is a huge piece of Half Moon Bay. Click for the interactive version on Google Maps.
Copyright © 2002-2005 Kenneth & Gabrielle Adelman, California Coastal Records Project.
Wavecrest in 2002. Click for more views of the adjacent properties on the California Coastal Records Project.
The Wavecrest development as planned in 2004. Much of the land needed to be set aside as open space and the middle school was in the northeast (upper right) corner.
Click below to read the press release.

POST Announces Agreement to Purchase Wavecrest Property in Half Moon Bay

Sellers determine new option as most economically viable;

Property includes recreational opportunities and valuable wildlife habitat.

Today the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) announced that it has reached an agreement with the owners of Wavecrest — a 216-acre property located on Cabrillo Highway on the southern tip of Half Moon Bay. The landowners have considered multiple alternatives for the property and decided that selling it to POST so that the organization may protect the land for environmental and recreational purposes is the best option to pursue.

"Wavecrest is a breathtaking window to the Pacific Ocean," said Audrey Rust, president and CEO of POST. "This agreement will help preserve the rural coastside character of the Half Moon Bay area for countless generations to come."

With its open meadows and windswept coastal bluffs, Wavecrest gives those who visit a snapshot of what Half Moon Bay — once called Spanishtown — was like more than 150 years ago. From majestic raptors soaring overhead to its spectacular hiking trails, Wavecrest is a stunning seaside property that provides a vital link to the California Coastal Trail. In addition to hiking, people are drawn here by other recreational opportunities — from baseball to horseshoes to dog-walking.

For more than 30 years, owners of this land have considered various plans for developing Wavecrest, including projects ranging from approximately 200 to 600 residences. The sellers have now determined that selling the land to POST is their best option.

Bruce Russell, CEO of Kenmark Real Estate Group and representative of the land’s sellers, concurred and said that the sellers determined that substantial development was not appropriate here.

"Economic considerations, environmental concerns and community input led the sellers to approach POST about purchasing this land," Russell said. "It’s the best plan for all parties involved, including the sellers, the city, residents and visitors. The community can enjoy the land for recreation today and in the years to come while protecting a unique natural environment."

Although the purchase is not finalized, POST and the landowners decided to announce the agreement because of compelling public interest in the Wavecrest area, which includes recreational opportunities and protected habitat.

Half Moon Bay Mayor Naomi Patridge anticipated that the public will be interested to learn of the new agreement, which she says demonstrates a commitment to both recreation and conservation that will benefit residents.

"As a community, we know that interacting with the land for recreational purposes — whether by playing ball or hiking the trails — is an important aspect of life in our town," Patridge said. "We look forward to working with POST to develop a permanent arrangement for the ball fields and other recreational opportunities."

POST has permanently protected a number of other lands on the San Mateo Coast, including Johnston Ranch across the street from Wavecrest, in addition to Pillar Point Bluff and Rancho Corral de Tierra.

Audrey Rust, Bruce Russell, and their organizations set
themselves a mighty task and somehow are accomplishing it.  They richly deserve our admiration and gratitude, and I would hope that we accord them ongoing recognition for what they’re doing for our community.
  This puts a close to a long and stressful development chapter
in the City’s history and opens a whole new one with a much more
positive conservation potential for our future Coastside generations.


A big Thanks to Bruce Russell, Audrey Rust and everyone else who had a part to play in this purchase.  This is a beautiful site that will attract birders and other ecotourists from around the world.


I’m sure there will be people who feel that this is a bad thing and I won’t begin to think that I understand all the ways that this will affect the community. For my part, however, I say this is great. I’m very happy to think that there will still be big open views and room to wander around in the open fields above the beach. Thanks, POST!

And if I could ask for just one more thing, could you please be sure to sell the land to someone who will continue to let us walk and ride bikes and horses on the property and who will work with the City on continued access to (or outright purchase of) Smith fields so we still have a place to play ball? That’d be the icing on this nice big piece of cake.

Todd McGee

Comment 4
Thu, August 16, 2007 10:30am
John Lynch
All my comments

My Oh My. What a wonderful sense of community that shines forth with this most happy news.

My heartfelt thanks to Bruce Russell, Audrey Rust and all who allowed this treasure to be accomplished.

Now I won’t have to stand in front of the first bulldozer at Wavecrest Village.


What?! This is amazing. I thought the owners of the land were gearing up to push the project forward again. I have no idea how Bruce Russell pulled this off, but I would like to express my sincere thanks to Bruce, POST, and the owners of Wavecrest for protecting this stunning piece of the Coastside. This is a huge accomplishment.

Thanks to all that pulled this off, including the Red-Legged Frog, this is indeed wonderful news.

Great, anther chunk of undeveloped land, What about the Ball Parks?
The City should sell it’s Boondookle Park that it can’t afford, but bought on impulse to restrict developement, and cut a deal for Part of Wavecrest; for a Sports complex/regional park… One that includes covered Picnic areas, duck ponds, Basketball and handball and tennis courts, etc.
But that will never happen.
Kids who grow up on the coast,will continue to grow up thinking a park is where you go to get ticks.

Whoa! that news knocked my socks off! :-)

What this community has been able to achieve over the past 15 years is nothing short of heroic. Thanks to everyone who has kept the “participation” in our participatory democracy and persevered, often in the face of challenges that seemed unsurmountable. The Coastside and all who love it have much to celebrate.

Congratulations and many thanks to Audrey Rust and Bruce Russell for exercising genuine leadership in the resolution of this critcally important issue.  The road to this point has been twisty and bumpy and for long periods impassable. The problem of Wavecrest has sucked up untold City, Coastal Commission,  citizen and developer resources, made and undercut political careers, and forged and snapped political alliances and personal relationships. I know, I spent about 14 years of my life wrestling with Wavecrest as activist, council member and mayor. But at this moment, with the end in sight, I feel only deep gratitude to Audrey and Bruce, two exceptional human beings, and to all of those folks in and outside of our community who worked unflaggingly on behalf of coastal protection. Let’s hope our current mayor and city council follow, and learn from, your lead.

Deborah Ruddock

This remarkable turn of events has so many layers of implications for the Coastside that it will take years to sort them all out.

One of the most interesting is the relationship between POST and the city.  POST is now one of the biggest landowners in HMB and it now owns a vital piece of its active recreation facilities (Smith Field) and is the lienholder on the Pilarcitos Creek park site.

I guess I’m missing something here. How does a parcel go from being a federally protected wildlife habitat to even entertaining a ball field? These two uses are mutually exclusive. Are there parts of Wavecrest that are not under protection, that are under consideration for those more urbane recreational purposes?

Outstanding! So many people have dreamed this dream for so long. As a former board member of HOST, now the Coastside Land Trust, I am one of them. But my small efforts were trivial compared to those of some of the people who have commented on this topic and to those activists who are gone or have moved away. So I thank all of them too for helping to save this priceless asset for generations to come. And now, thanks to Audrey Rust and Bruce Russell the dream—or rather, the miracle—has come true!


To Frank’s question: The ballfields have been there for enough years that they are considered “grandfathered.” That being said, state and federal agencies have identified several issues in the immediate surrounding area that would make it very difficult to have any additional or expanded fields in that part of Wavecrest. But, again, the ones that are there get to stay there.

Mike, I had asked that only because, beside myself, a couple of long term residents I had spoken with were also confused about whether this effort would have paved the way for the development of more ballfields there. Thanks for the clarification.

I would like to echo all the positive comments above without restating them, other than to say… amazing and fantastic!

There’s not much left to say, but I will say it anyway.

Many, many kudos to Bruce Russell for working his magic, and to Audrey Rust for marshalling the resources that brought us this most welcome of all “developments”. 

Sofia Freer

Comment 18
Fri, August 17, 2007 5:36am
Deb Wong
All my comments

YES!!!!!  and THANK YOU!

A thank you and congratulations to ALL who made this possible. This ranks right up there with the setting aside of the current State Park lands and the maximum elevation for development on the hill sides for shaping the future livability here.

The ‘next generation’ needs to stop the effort to re-allocate the development allocations from this property and the gutting rewrite of our LCP/LUP in the next two years till we can see a realignment of the City Council majority.

We live in an area with a precarious water supply and a traffic system leading to 280, which can never expand sufficiently to support the population envisioned by the pro-residential-growth-forces. The realistic maximum population should be reflected in the LCP/LUP with a significantly lower maximum population limit - build out number. Any upcoming CCWD water rationing plan and price hikes should help - maybe they will recommend a seawater desalinization plant paid for by current residents of course.  Also remember that the traffic when Devils Slide was out could otherwise become ‘the good ole days’.

Will Jim Larimer, Ken Jones, et al, now give CUSD the 15 Million Dollars lost by their unrealistic delaying of the building of Cunha Middle School for a dozen years ignoring Wavecrest’s history and give us the modern school we were promised instead of a new 60’s school being planed?

Ken Johnson

Congradulations to all who helped bring about this wonderful “developement” :-) Have followed the news, but this was my first chance at getting a comment in.  It’s all a matter of balance.  With all the building going on in the North Coastside, we need the open space to the south and Wavecrest now meets that need.  And all coastsiders know one important truth: locals and visitors alike will enjoy the views and recreational opportunities available in the future.  Way to go POST!

Jim Henderson

Wow!!! Additional words fail me at this time :-)

That is really great news!  Congratulations to everyone on both sides of this deal for seeing the wisdom in this transaction.

I can see this is good news for many. I don’t have too much of an opinion since my son goes to school over the hill but I do hope to come back as a red-legged frog in my next life so I’ll have an inexpensive/free place to live with an incredible ocean view.


Wouldn’t it be great if we had a boys and girls club here on the coast? Will we ever get one, or is that considered “growth-inducing”?

Comment 25
Thu, August 23, 2007 10:00pm
Ray Olson
All my comments

Oh, and wouldn’t it be great if we had a brand new middle school instead of our current run-down, dilapidated, embarassing school that we currently have?

Please don’t troll on Coastsider. That’s all ancient history at this point.

Looking forward, we’re presented with a remarkable opportunity.  POST is already clearly willing to support active parks as part of their open space mission and there is plenty of space on this site for both active and passive recreation, even after the needs of wildlife and open space are accomodated.

Twenty years from now, how would we we like to see this magnificent parcel fit into the Coastside community?

The first time a sacred froggie or snakie gets bashed by a ground ball or a flyball there go the ball fields. I suggest a walk thru [like we usd to do on our taxiways for FOD] before each ball game to shoo the frogs & snakes out of harms way.

Comment 28
Sat, August 25, 2007 11:14am
Ray Olson
All my comments

Sorry but I don’t know what you mean by trolling. And it is disheartening that you think not having a boys and girls club on the coast is ancient history. (or a new middle school for that matter).

It must have been around 15 years ago that folks were all excited about the possibility of having a new boys and girls club, and the prospect of a new middle school. Are you now suggesting it won’t happen until “20 years from now”?

I would love to see POST turn this into a boys and girls club, even have a place for sports (soccer fields, basketball courts, and even a public swimming pool). Do you think POST would allow this to happen?

This is not the place for a discussion of why we don’t have a new boys and girls club or middle school.  You know there are two sides to that issue that were argued to death over the course of the last decade.  It would be trolling to raise that issue here.

Now that the school district is renovating Cunha we’ll finally have our new middle school and the b&g club have chosen the site for their new building.

I agree that the site has great potential for recreation. I’m not sure the coastal bluffs would be a good location for the kind of multistory basketball complex that I understand the b&g club is aiming for. But there’s no proposal on the table yet.

I don’t want to argue over whether this is a place for discussion on why we lack a boys and girls club or a middle school. I am trying to make a point that originally part of this area was to be made into a recreational area, and through this whole debacle us citizens are the ones that lost. Of course the main point here is that the owner of the property basically had no other choice but to sell it to POST (if the owner is looking to make some sort of profit). I don’t think we need a multistory basketball complex, but it would be awesome if the land would be turned into a multi-sports use park, so that everyone could enjoy it. But of course it will probably not happen for at least another 20 years.

I agree with Ray - this community has been held hostage by thoses seeking to bundle community recreation facilities with huge new development projects.  I think the fact that this site was designated too wet to farm in the ‘40’s or ‘50s might be a clue as to why it has had the problems it suffers from over the years. 

The water problems on that area of coastal terrace are known to some of us.  The Alsace Lorraine area needed to have expensive, new drainage systems installed in the 80’s.  I have spoken to builders in the area who have told me they routinely put in a solid concrete subfloor to stop water accumulations under houses. 

The Pilarcitos Park has recreation areas planned into it.  I think getting those in asap would be good.  An alternative for soccer fields may be the 6 ac. the city owns by Sewer Plant Road.

Concerns for the future of Coastside parklands, and expressions of concern about the final impact of the Post purchase have been twice dismissed as invalid by the simple accusation of Trolling.
I had to look up the meaning;
Finding this: a member may sometimes try to deflate a post that is thought provoking by referring to it as “trolling”. And : the term troll is sometimes used as the argument, attacking the poster rather than the content of the post.

Yes, there were two sides to the issue of Wavecrest development, and the Post purchase should brings finality; but if commenting on the lost potentail for traditional park facilities is trolling, it is no more so, than those who express jubilation at the same.

For the Editor to post accusations of trolling, if people express their concerns about current events,  seems odd; Why allow any comments at all? Or is the whole point to deliver a network where only one side of an equation can be expressed? Any others deemed void by attacking the poster rather than the content of the post.

It is suggested that “now that the school district is renovating Cunha we’ll finally have our new middle school and the B&G club have chosen the site for their new building”.
That does not change the fact that many feel the renovation of Chunha by squeezing more into less is a disservice to the children of the community.

The feigned happiness that the “The ballfields … are considered “grandfathered.” Is countered with joy, in that the “surrounding area that would make it very difficult to have any additional or expanded fields…. “
How old are those fields? And what size was the community when it was built? Do you seriously expect it to suffice for the current community?

You suggest, “ I agree that the site has great potential for recreation. I’m not sure the coastal bluffs would be a good location for the kind of multistory basketball complex that I understand the B&G club is aiming for”.
Multistory? A high ceiling over a sports court is considered multistory? What if any, is your positive and realistic conception of a location for a new and improved sports center or B&G club; that will not be met with perpetual obstruction.
The same people who cheered this present Post purchase were unhappy with the first Location, (read: any location) and spearheaded the drive to move the B&G club to the Wavecrest area. Is it any wonder My 26-year-old son was right, when in 5th grade, He said The B&G club will never be built in time for him to use it, and many now fear the same for their children.

It is fine that those who support this result of the Wavecrest controversy are happy, and wish to congratulate themselves; but commenting on the sale, and speculating on the ultimate results, in an area designated for comments, is not trolling.

I reiterate, “The Kids who grow up on the Coast, will continue to grow up, thinking a park is where you go to get ticks”.

I’d like to express my appreciation to Audrey Rust of P.O.S.T. for giving assurances to the City of Half Moon Bay that the ballfields already in Wavecrest will have a more secure future status than they now have, and for expressing a willingness to look into the possibility of a soccer field being constructed there in the future. Both are generous gestures to the Coastside community.

For some reason, there are some folks that don’t seem to want to recognize that generosity but, then, this is the Coastside, isn’t it?

The battle over Wavecrest was a tragedy for the community, but it’s over. Bill, you and I disagree about whose fault it was, but pointless arguments over ancient history is destructive to community.

It’s time to move on.

The city and unincorporated Coastside desperately need real parks with grass and picnic tables and playing fields and play structures and gardens and bathrooms and trees and trails and more. I support a fair and public process for deciding where those parks would be and what they’ll have in them.

I think that’s something you and I can agree on and I’d prefer to think of this purchase as an opportunity to get there.

In response to Bill Hedrix’s post:

“...For the Editor to post accusations of trolling, if people express their concerns about current events, seems odd; Why allow any comments at all? Or is the whole point to deliver a network where only one side of an equation can be expressed? Any others deemed void by attacking the poster rather than the content of the post…”

Yes, Bill….you’re right!  That is why many of us on the Coastside refer to this web site as “Barry’s Blog”.......because he will always respond to a post with which he doesn’t agree by editorializing.

If you really want to see a community wide “back and forth discussion” take a look at our local newspaper’s “Talkabout”.......

You’ll find some lively debate there…....and Clay [Clay Lambert, the editor] only chimes in when he spots “ad hominem” or other distasteful comments.


My goal has been to keep this conversation on-topic. I think the timeline story would be a good place to carry on a conversation about Wavecrest before the POST purchase.

Talkabout is very…um….lively. It’s not really my cup of tea: anonymous and angry. Kind of like the O’Reilly Factor without O’Reilly’s scrupulous attention to accuracy and fairness.

Mary (and Ray) know I don’t suppress any opinions here, but I try to maintain a lively and honest discussion.  Keeping folks on-topic is part of that process. I do participate in conversations about what I’ve written, which I consider to be a good thing.  I’m sorry Mary doesn’t feel that way.  It’s something you won’t get at the Review, where they’ve set aside a separate playpen for their readers.

I applaud Barry for having enough sense to require people to actually use their names before they blast someone anonymously with someblind verbal epithet, as is current practice on Talkabout.

Lively debate is hardly what I would call those sessions where people stab each other in the back as they hide behind their keyboards. I commend Mary for at least being open in that regard, on both lists, but as well versed in the topics as she appears to be, I just don’t agree with her viewpoint about the two lists. Nothing personal, Mary.

Perhaps it’s the Talkabout groupies that refer to Coastsider as “Barry’s Blog”, but most of the folks I speak with just refer to it as “Coastsider”.

Personally, I think Barry has been very fair with the discussions on this site, though the articles themselves seem to biased (which of course invites debate, which I think is good). However, I was taken aback when Barry asked me to not comment on Wavecrest’s past. Barry, I think you are also correct on trying to stay on topic, and I honestly believe I have been on topic.

As for POST.. I will believe what they are promising when I see it. Wasn’t POST the ones that tried to prevent folks from walking the trails in Montara?? (I might be wrong)

Does POST have plans to give up part of the site for a community park (maybe for the county instead of to the city of HMB)?

I don’t object to the word “blog”.  Lots of folks (including Clay) have tried to use it to insult me.  I think it just shows their confusion.

There’s no way to know for certain, but I see little evidence that POST doesn’t want their land purchases used by people. They encourage agriculture on the ag land they own, they try to sell their land to state and federal park agencies, they financed a planned recreational park for Half Moon Bay, and they have not enforced any access restrictions in Rancho Corral de Tierra that I’m aware of.

First, I’d like to clear some confusion regarding Wavecrest and the Coastal Trail. The developer had committed via development agreement to maintain a 1000-foot setback from the bluffs, along which they would construct and maintain the Coastal Trail with their dollars. Following execution of the POST deal, POST, or the City and POST and other partners, will need to secure funding for trail construction and maintenance in addition to securing acquisition funding.

Second, I think we can expect POST to work with the City and others to develop a thoughtful, balanced plan for public use of the property. I expect public meetings will be held to solicit public input. The City should actively partner with POST and the Coastside Land Trust not only to develop a realistic public access plan but also to secure implementation funding. Voter-approved bond funds (November 2006) provide hundreds of millions of dollars for urban and rural active and passive parks and trails in addition to open space acquisition. Indeed, according to new legislative priorities, the presence of active recreational facilities on site may improve chances for obtaining public grant funding to help defray land acquisition costs. In any case, grant programs will be highly competitive, and the City will need influential partners and friends to help carry its message. POST fits the bill. The City has a terrific opportunity here. Who knows if or when there will be another parks bond.

What would I like to see? An ‘Ecology: Education Restoration Demonstration Research Centre’. [title needs a little work], a ‘spur’ from the coastside trail to encourage bike and walking, the existing ball fields and football [aka soccer] field(s) and ‘neighbourhood garden’ plots.

Ken Johnson

POST’s purchase 0f the 215 acre parcel of Wavecrest seems the perfect solution for the community of Half Moon Bay and the Coastside.  Passive and recreational uses will protect the character of the community which would have been altered dramaticaly by the development of hundreds of houses, turning Half Moon Bay into a suburb of San Francisco.

Yes, we do need parks for our children and sports activities.  I was under the impression that the 21 acre parcel that Half Moon Bay purchased from Post was to be used to develop a park for our young people.

Cities should provide recreational opportunities for their young.  If our tax base does not support these requirements than we should look to ways of raising taxes in order to pay for the improvements we need to engage our young.  We shouldn’t look to developers to give us ‘freebies’ while we allow them to plunder habitat, wetlands, and the coast itself.

Congratulations to all who worked so long and hard to protect Wavecrest from development. Congratulations to POST and Audry Rust for their vision and their muscle, and congratulations to the developers who finally recognized that it was best to throw in the towel on this one.

The whole coastside benefits for generations to come.  So what’s not to love?