Moss Beach Park bathroom one big step closer

Posted by on Fri, June 19, 2009

Scott Boyd is a member of the Montara Water and Sanitary District board.

Thursday night Montara Water and Sanitary District cleared the way for a new bathroom at Moss Beach Park.  Five years ago a broad coalition of community members came together to build the park, but at the time there was no provision for a bathroom.

Since then park usage grew, and the need became more pressing.  San Mateo County Parks and Recreation Department recently offered to fund the construction and maintenance of the bathroom with funds collected from park mitigation fees. In late April, Coastside Preservation and Recreation (CPR) brought news of the funding opportunity to the MWSD board.  CPR expressed concerns that the County needed to see that the bathroom project was reasonably free of problems and likely to reach completion or risk having the money allocated to some other project.

CPR, County Parks and Rec, and MWSD board members and staff all helped pull together a good bit of background information about the park property.  MWSD staff televised the sewer main on Virginia Avenue, and located evidence of an old connection.  In the 70’s the old school burned to the ground.  Precious little hard evidence remained, so this new find was great news.

Because of these special circumstances, MWSD’s board was able to approve a variance that will allow CPR to proceed with design, permitting, and construction of this long-awaited addition to Moss Beach Park, and to demonstrate to the County that they were right to put this project at the head of the list of worthy local projects to fund.

Video of last night’s meeting is available at

Thank you so much for figuring out how to support this much needed project!  Our children (and their parents) will all benefit.

This is great news. This park is one of the gems of the Coastside and we’re over there all the time.  The building of this park was one of the earliest stories we covered at Coastsider.

Interesting solution to determining whether there was a previous connection at that site.

Well done, Scott. I know this has been one of your priorities to resolve and I’m glad you were able to do so, because resolution was by no means certain. Good and clever solution.

Fantastic news Scott - on behalf of the kids, and their parents, thanks for your creativity in finding a solution.  As Barry mentioned, this is our park of choice on the mid-coast and bathrooms will be a huge improvement.

I’m certainly glad to have been able to participate with the team that has been looking to find a workable solution— Bill Hill and Neil Merrilees on behalf of the CPR board, Dave Holland from County Parks and Rec, Len Erickson for Midcoast Parks and Rec committee, Paul Perkovic, Kathryn Slater-Carter, Clemens Heldmaier and our crew, SAM crew, and more all worked together to solve this.

Pigs do fly. Everybody should vote for these guys.  It only took them ive years to do the right thing. Scott for President!!!! I hope they all remember to use this how much they love children and families in thier next election.  Let the glad-handing begin!!

I woluld lke to hear one of them say this:
“I was wrong, the park did have a right to water and we should have done this sooner.”

Interesting politics at work here. Notice how Scott Boyd takes credit (shared with Kathryn Slater-Carter and Paul Perkovic) but no mention of Bob Ptacek, the sole MWSD Board member who openly supported it. And no words for the other 2 MWSD Board Members who are up for reelection. So the person who was the most staunchly opposed to a flush toilet for so many years, is now claiming credit for finding a creative solution?!!!

We need more civic minded citizens such as Bill Hill and the Moss Beach Park people, Neil Merrilees, Tim Pond, Dave Holland, and others who work tirelessly to convert the naysayers and benefit the community.

So, doing nothing but whining and kicking their feet and trying to use the bathroom issue as a “do it for the kiddies” political ploy to unseat MWSD directors, the overdevelopment, water-unconscious side of the local political divide was unable to bully a bathroom into being.

Other people got the county to reverse its past neglect of the park in order to come up with funds and MWSD sought and found evidence of a past connection for the property.

Seems pretty obvious who “got ‘er done” to me.

I can understand Carl May trying to defend his friends, but he should have picked a better subject on which to chime in because he’s more than just misinformed here, he’s incorrect.

Watch the recent MWSD meeting and see for yourself the CPR presentation, after which you’ll hear Scott Boyd proclaim there’s not enough evidence to support a Moss Beach Park water connection. Kathryn Slater-Carter said the same thing. (Let’s go to the videotape!)
Only Paul Perkovic pointed out that no one would entrust MWSD with park services powers if they can’t provide something as easy as water to Moss Beach Park.

So how hard did Boyd and Slater-Carter work the last couple of weeks, when they had a total change of heart? MBP people did the heavy lifting and ran the park BY THEMSELVES all this time (the County didn’t fund it). So you tell me what motivated MWSD. But actually, whether it’s MWSD’s shame over the way they handled it or politics (the election-year need to deliver on local residents’ needs), at least they finally got it right.

I’d also advise Carl May to pick his battles more wisely, as he has zero credibility on this issue.

So, Mr. Farbstein, the MWSD came up with evidence of the connection. Or did you miss that recent development? That shifts the thinking on the suitability of providing a water connection when we have no new connections available in the district under a moratorium and water shortage that has us playing catchup with past overdevelopment mistakes in the district.

As for running the park by themselves, you may be interested to know that I was invited to be on the board of the little nonprofit shortly after it formed to manage the donated piece. Was already overcommitted, but have kept up on major developments with the park since and have donated a number of times. The park has a ways to go before it serves the whole community, as it is now mostly for the families of little kids.

When the board tried to get the county to take over the park somne years ago, I supported the activity as a way the county could make up for its neglect of parks and recreation in our developed areas. The county passed, as usual in those times, but its support of the bathroom at this time is also a new development that has shifted the equation—or did you miss that item, as well?

Sorry, you lose if you are in the camp of those who wished to use the water hookup for the park as a way to embarrass the MWSD board for political reasons in pursuit of prying open water connections for which there is no water for new development. The narrow come-latelys to the park issue of recent years may not have any overall perspective on the serious water limitation due to overbuilding in our district or on what is being done by recent boards to improve the situation for existing water users since the takeover from the private corporatin. Hopefully, they, and you, will learn something from this experience.

Carl’s version: MWSD doggedly pursued this issue for years and suddenly, amazingly, found evidence of a connection.

Reality: MWSD ignored the evidence for years and finally approved the reconnection when it was politically expedient.

Like I said, I’m happy the hookup will be reestablished. MWSD doesn’t need me to embarrass them. (They’re plenty good at that themselves; for evidence watch the video.) They DO need me (and other residents) to hold them accountable when they don’t provide efficient service.

Like I said, Carl, it doesn’t reflect well on you or MWSD to pursue your revisionist history.

Sorry to say, the evidence for a water and/or sewer connection to Moss Beach Park has not been available for years. What has been going on for years is the reasonable request for evidence of a prior hookup before a district with no additional water to give to new development makes a judicious exception. In fact, it was the recent above-mentioned televising of the sewer main that brought the first bit of any sort of prior physical connection into evidence. Nope, no paper records (the previous private companies were terrible with such things), no reliable verbal history, no nothing from the whiners and feet-kickers trying to use the park situation as an emotional political ploy. Wishes are not evidence.

I did not say the district pursued this doggedly for years. Putting words into someone else’s mouth and making assumptions about someone or a district board also does not constitute history.

I am grateful that my district board is very careful with our faithful, local, but limited water supply. Members of this board were the ones who championed the public takeover of the derelict water system from the absentee private corporation, and they have worked to upgrade the system and provide greater water security just as they said they would before we voted overwhelmingly to take over the system.

Several of the overdevelopment voices pushing in recent years for more hookups for water that is not reliably there were among the meager 20 percent voicing objections to takeover of the system. Their cornucopian attitude may hold sway in the overcommitted CCWD, but we are fortunate to not be governed by directors who slosh water about on a wing and a prayer.

  What has been going on for years is the reasonable request for evidence of a prior hookup before a district with no additional water to give to new development makes a judicious exception. In fact, it was the recent above-mentioned televising of the sewer main that brought the first bit of any sort of prior physical connection into evidence. Nope, no paper records (the previous private companies were terrible with such things), no reliable verbal history, no nothing from the whiners and feet-kickers trying to use the park situation as an emotional political ploy. Wishes are not evidence.


Normally I ignore your posts but this is altogether too much. Much too much.

Everyone involved in the debate knew that a school had once been one the site. Everyone involved knew that when they built the park five years ago they found a pipe (the one that was later televised at Paul Perkovic’s suggestion). Did you bother to watch the presentation Neil Merrilees and Bill Hill made—or were you too “overcommitted” for that, too?

MWSD deserves its fair share of credit for removing a bureaucratic obstacle for turning the water back on at the park but the real heavy lifting was done by others—the ones who have worked for years to encourage the MWSD to take this step, the ones who have maintained the park all these years, and the ones who found the money to build the structure (and who are working even now to get approvals and make proper arrangements).

They are “overcommitted,” too, but somehow find time to actually go to meetings, serve on boards, and get things done.


Minor correction—“everyone involved” did not know that they found a pipe five years ago.  In January 2005 I met at length with CPR folks about a bathroom.  I do not recall any mention of evidence of an existing lateral in our discussions about finding evidence of prior connections.

Another point of clarification, the sewer main that our manager had televised is the one in Virginia Ave.  That’s where the camera saw the lateral connecting in from the park property.  We did not televise the lateral itself. 

It was good that the park folks worked so hard to find and bring new information to the board about the parcel’s history, and that the discussion happened.  It led to the idea to televise the main, and that provided concrete (or vitreous clay) substantiation.

The work of the park leadership, and their continued efforts to bring the community together to do something really good, is a source of encouragement for the community as a whole.


You seem to know little about the older properties in our communities. There are pipes all over the place. In the lot of my former home on Acacia Street in Montara, I had a pipe (presumably wastewater, but who knew) coming up in the middle of the back yard that I never did bother to run down in the nine and a half years I lived there. Heck, in some parts of Montara there are old sidewalks under a foot or two of dirt from the days the subdivided property was being sold by the original land speculators.

In the “old days,” there were all kinds of “midnight hookups,” wells, and other casual taps into our developed and undeveloped resources in Montara and Moss Beach that went unregistered and unpaid for. Some of these are still around.

Yes, it seems logical that the former building on the Moss Beach Park property must have had hookups, but a pipe on the park property not traced to its origin is still not conclusive evidence of any established prior hookup. As it is, the MWSD directors stretched a bit even after the video of the main in the street showed an old pipe going to the property. I’m glad they did, but this does not overcome the fact we still have no recorded hookups to the property in a district with a moratorium because past overbuilding maxed out readily available district water supplies. The pipe that showed up on the video was in the wastwater system, if I am not mistaken, and, if so, there is still no physical evidence for a legitimate water hookup.

I’m well aware of the ongoing story of the park, living just a few streets away, knowing board members of the nonprofit almost from the time it was first formed, and having donated to the great effort in recent years to partially fix it up. It will be great to see the place completed with active recreational opportunities, such as a rearranged and restored basketball court for the entire community to which the park property was donated.

It is the duty of our water district to manage our limited water resources wisely and to keep the interests of all existing water users in mind.

The presentations I have seen made on behalf of park hookups have been of the sympathetic, emotional kind. Did you note testimony that gave the rationale that the board’s decision was a huge public relations opportunity and that the board could get a lot of mileage out of its decision? How goofy and lightweight is that when it comes to managing limited natural resources? Like political correctness and feel-good decisin are what we want from our board? There is a strong “do it for the kiddies” element, knowing how that tugs on the feelings of many.

But grow up for a moment and ask yourself if you want a water district that will provide precious hookups to anything anyone generates at any time? The draw on the district is open-ended over time if you go for that approach, but our water supply remains limited. The new and refurbished infrastructure that has been built in recent years since the takeover and that will continue to come into the system is almost all catchup for existing users due to past overcommitment. I’m grateful for the commitment of the district board to the entire community in the face of special interests vying for exceptions that would only push back our eventual improved community water security as they must be added to the population served.

Epic Carl May…

Bathrooms in city parks… is anti-zero population growth. Bad. Voodoo.