As the Half Moon Bay City Council gathered for its first meeting of 2019, council chambers began to fill… and kept filling. Residents opposing Dunes Beach arrived by the dozen, many carrying homemade signs featuring the snowy plover. The spherical bird has been an emblem for the campaign against hotel and RV park development adjacent to Dunes Beach, an opposition led by Committee for Green Foothills in concert with local activists. Although the Council had not agendized anything about Dunes Beach, and thus was procedurally prohibited from commenting on it, the massive public presence and delivery of a petition opposing the development made Dunes Beach a preeminent issue at the January 15th meeting.
More than 150 people attended the City Council meeting in Half Moon Bay to stand up for the integrity of the beach and the lands around it, representing more than 4,680 people who signed a petition against developing the land into a high-end hotel and luxury RV park. Remarkably, more than 15% of all Half Moon Bay’s residents signed the petition to Council asking for the protection of Dunes Beach. Comments on Green Foothills’ website reveal a deep connection many residents feel with the beach. “What will be left for generations to follow, if we don’t protect what little natural scenery we have left on our coastline?” wrote one resident. “I’ve moved out of the bay but continually visit this special place,” commented another. Taking the long view, another coastal resident asks to “preserve and protect Dunes Beach for generations to enjoy as much as my family has.”
So what’s next for Dunes Beach? The proposed project is still in its earliest stages. Once the city receives a formal application, they will begin an extensive public review process that could take several years, during which time councilmembers are unlikely to signal support or opposition. Committee for Green Foothills will be watching the issue closely. The Coastside Land Trust has expressed interest in purchasing the property at appraised fair market value, which could eventually lead to full protection of the land around Dunes Beach. Currently, with a potentially lucrative development pending, the developer is unwilling to consider the offer, which Green Foothills considers short-sighted. The developer could potentially sink millions of dollars into the project to only have it rejected by the City Council; only once the project has been approved is it actually worth extremely high value. Green Foothills will continue to work on finding a way to protect Dunes Beach and the land that surrounds it.