Owners donate Glencree to HMB

Posted by on Thu, October 14, 2010

The owners of the 12-acre Glencree site, adjacent to Beachwood, will donate the land to the city of Moon Bay, reports the County Times. Ronald and Patricia VandenBerghe, of Merit Manor LP, will receive a tax write-off. The donation will take place at next Tuesday’s city council meeting.

The city took possession of Beachwood at a cost of $18 milllion as a result of its settlement of a lawsuit with the property’s owner.

"It gives the city the opportunity to consolidate the properties for future development," said [city manager Michael] Dolder by telephone. "It is a piece that allows you to do a better plan for the area."

The city settled a separate legal dispute over Glencree in March 2010, in which it gave up its option to purchase the site someday. In recent months, the VandenBerghes approached the city about donating the parcel. The owners will receive a tax write-off as a result of the donation, according to Dolder.

Glencree was approved for a 47-lot subdivision in 1990, but a sewer moratorium prevented construction of the homes. Glencree attorney Anna Shimko has said that when the owners sought to extend their expired development permit in 2001, the city denied them.

The owners filed a lawsuit in San Mateo County Superior Court seeking to restore their development rights and a refund for the money they paid toward expanding the city’s sewer system, but they agreed to stay the lawsuit until two other tangled legal disputes—regarding Beachwood and another neighboring property called Ailanto—could be settled.

The County Times reports that biologists surveyed at least part of Glencree last winter as part of a study of Beachwood’s development potential.

They should have donated it to the Coastside Land Trust. Whatever. Now there is one owner of giant wetland dominated parcel. Another Wavecrest waiting to happen.

Comment 2
Thu, October 14, 2010 7:38pm
Ray Olson
All my comments

actually they are both not really considered wetlands until the runoff water was diverted to this area, sigh. It is really dis-heartening that us hmb residents of today are paying for such bad decisions of a council some 15 - 20 years ago. It would be in our best intersts to actuall sue the coastal commision for putting us in this precarious position.

Comment 3
Thu, October 14, 2010 7:52pm
Barry Parr
All my comments

This has been argued to death for years, but there is reason to believe that the ground was wet long before then.

Ken King and John Muller don’t agree on much, but they both agree that the property was wet long before that, based on personal experience.

Also, keep in mind that that property was supposedly flooded by the failure of a drainage system that was installed by the city to drain…what? Dry land?

The property is buildable. The Coastal Commission gave Keenan the right to build a certain number of houses on the land. He just didn’t like the number.

Meanwhile, the city acquired the property knowing its history, having written its own Local Coastal Program, and having played an active role in bringing the property to its present state.

Good luck with that lawsuit.

Comment 4
Thu, October 14, 2010 9:20pm
Ray Olson
All my comments

we all know that the property was intended to be developed on once it was sold to keenan, only later to be revoked due to the lcp that hmb had to enact. The idea that it was even considered a wetland was of course due to the no-growth faction that resided in the council at the time the water diversion was being performed, unfortunately. We of course are now paying for these past mistakes.

Comment 5
Thu, October 14, 2010 9:44pm
Barry Parr
All my comments

Ray, I don’t have any interest in having this argument again. But that’s one messed-up chronology you’ve got there.

To put it another way, Judge Walker found that the “taking” was in the old guard city hall creating the wetlands, it was never a regulatory taking. Property rights fundamentalists continue to ignore that fact, despite claiming to have read the decision.

For the record, I disagree with Judge Walker’s finding, but he never consulted me.

Please, let’s move on.

I’d be interested in your thoughts on this other than your desire the sue the Coastal Commission.

Speaking for myself only, I had a positive reaction to the donation of Glencree to the City! With the City’s ownership of these two parcels and the public process that will ensue about development, our community has a great opportunity to do 2 things that have been lacking in recent years. We can forge new partnerships between stakeholders in the development and protection of land, and we can protect the special attributes of these parcels by crafting development appropriate to the land.

Every day, over 5,000 acres of land are developed in the U.S. Many landowners are taking a stand to safeguard the places they love— productive farms, ranchland, forests, wetlands, coastlines— for their family and for future generations. I hope that this donation will allow the City working together with all of the other community stakeholders to address the development of this area with respect for the natural assets and the appropriate economic development potential of the land. The balance of these competing public interests is not easy and does not lend itself to a “tag – you’re it” phrase or a sound bite.


I invite those who wish to participate in a collaborative discussion about Glencree and Beachwood to join me. I think that we (as an entire community) have more to gain by listening to each other in a respectful way, than we could ever gain by the polarizing demonization of those who have views different from ours. I am inclined to favor less intensive development on Glencree and Beachwood, but understand that others have sincerely held views as well. Let us try to act like we are all in this together and then maybe we will be.