Opinion: Fear of Foothill
Much spleen has been vented over the Foothill/Bayview proposal outlined by Coastside Community First. Mike Ferreira pronounced it “baloney,” “hare-brained,” “mythical” and “haywire.” John Lynch gave it a “snowball’s chance in hell.” Barry Parr found it “cynical,” Leonard Woren “cavalier.” But how much substance is there behind all that vitriol?
“The Phantom Proposal” Many critics have inaccurately attacked the previous, grandiose Foothill plans – not the proposal CCF made. Naturally, this ‘straw man’ is easy to lambaste: a divided four-lane highway stretching from 92 to Young Avenue at Nurserymen’s Exchange. The closest road of that size is Highway 1 in Pacifica north of Rockaway. CCF’s two-lane proposal is wholly different, with a map on the front and Google photo on the back showing its much smaller extent. Critics demonstrate fear of the actual proposal by refusing to accurately address it.
Costs This thread of inaccuracy extends to critics’ alleged chief concern – the costs –, which they falsely calculate, based on a phantom proposal obviously not under consideration. In fact, the reduced costs are one of the actual proposal’s chief virtues. The Coastal Commission in its 2001 approval required Ailanto to pay its “fare share” (sic) of the roadway and intersection, as they would have with Beachwood. Since the entire County and State would benefit from the roadway, local officials could procure outside funding, leaving little or no costs to the City. Under the circumstances, only an obstructionist can believe a two-lane, one-mile-long road is somehow cost-prohibitive.
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Traffic circulation Even less supported is the assertion that Foothill/Bayview would not improve traffic circulation. Single-lane underpasses at both Bayview/1 and Foothill/92 would mean commuters, visitors and local traffic could transition between highways without stopping, while avoiding all of the congestion in the 92/Main/1 chokepoint. The Coastal Commission confirmed that Ailanto’s traffic studies showed, even without other planned 92/Main/1 improvements, that “significant traffic impacts could be avoided if access to the project site were provided via either Foothill Boulevard or a combination of both Foothill and Bayview.” Opponents appear unwilling to acknowledge that the CCF proposal is based on the extensive analysis the Commission employed in requiring Foothill and/or Bayview for Ailanto.
Community park Critics are conspicuously silent on the Community Park’s proposed access, a plan that would be laughable were it not so dangerous and traffic-inducing. A Foothill underpass would provide safe, congestion-free access, which (as Mr. Ferreira admits) was the City engineer’s preferred plan for Foothill/92 because of the site’s elevated grade. Should Foothill continue through to connect with Stone Pine? Perhaps that issue should be decided by those most impacted, the residents of Cypress Cove. It was they who were most blindsided when the prior City Council ‘borrowed’ the taxpayers’ credit card and secretly spent $3,100,000 on the land, without even the foreknowledge of its Parks & Rec Commission.
Boys’ & Girls’ Club/high school Other benefits of Foothill/Bayview remain unchallenged. The Boys’ & Girls’ Club needs safe Highway 1 access, which an underpass at Bayview/1 would provide. The high school, doubling as our community’s emergency crisis center, badly needs dual access, which can only occur if Lewis Foster Drive is extended east to Foothill. Mr. Ferreira may criticize such dual access now, but he recommended it less than two years ago in the Review (8/12/04).
92/Main project Mr. Ferreira is now touting the 92/Main improvements as a traffic cure-all, although he sidesteps claiming that they will help westbound afternoon commuter and weekend visitor traffic. Without Foothill, the benefits of the 92/Main improvements will be stunted. Jim Constantini, who was the 92/Main project manager for five years, stated in the Review (10/01/03): “I was directed to reduce the easterly limits of the [92/Main] project, not because it wasn’t needed or to reduce costs, but because it might help the construction of Foothill….I guess some council members have forgotten that they were elected to serve the citizens of Half Moon Bay and not to work on their own agenda of limiting growth on the coast by forcing everyone else to suffer through traffic jams.”
Coastal access The biggest reason we need Foothill/Bayview is to improve visitor coastal access, and on this issue the critics’ silence is deafening. The Coastal Act was created both to preserve the coastline and ensure access to it, especially for the visitor. There’s a real tension between these two goals, because the easiest way to preserve the coast is actually to restrict access to it. That tension is resolved by balancing preservation and access, so that the visiting public can enjoy the coastline in the context of its preservation. As the Coastal Commission stated in the Ailanto approval requiring Foothill and/or Bayview, “Because there are no alternative access routes to and along the coastline in this area of the coast, the extreme traffic congestion on Highways 1 and 92 significantly interferes with the public’s ability to access the area’s substantial public beaches and other visitor-serving coastal resources.”