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October 22, 2001

For More Information, Contact:
Deanna Sessums at (650) 688-6384


SACRAMENTO –  Assemblyman Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) announced today that $1.5 million has been allocated toward the acquisition and preservation of coastal bluffs and open space in Half Moon Bay along the San Mateo County coastline. 

Protecting this piece of property from development was among Simitian’s top conservation priorities this year.  Securing the funding, though, was “an uphill battle,” according to Simitian.  As a member of the Assembly Budget Committee, Simitian worked to ensure that funding for the bluffs was included in the budget approved by the Legislature in July.  Competition for limited open space acquisition funds was steep, however, and the Governor vetoed the funding for the bluffs citing fiscal constraints and diminishing resources in the Safe Neighborhood Parks, Clean Water, Clean Air and Coastal Protection Bond Fund.

Coastside residents, environmental advocates and Simitian were, of course, disappointed by the Governor’s veto.  But Simitian continued to press the case for San Mateo Counties Coastal Open Space – both in the Governor’s Office and in the State Department of Parks and Recreation.  “This was a case of ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’,” said Simitian.  “I thought it made all the sense in the world for the State to contribute to this conservation effort.  The property is next to an existing State park where people from all over the State – in fact, all over the world – come to enjoy the coastline.  Our job was to continue making our case.”

While the Governor vetoed the budget item specifically for the bluffs, the approved State budget did contain $15 million for urban parks funding with priority given to public agencies and nonprofit organizations that were willing to provide matching grants.  Simitian worked closely with the Governor and the Department of Parks to make the case for why the bluffs land was important to protect and should receive a portion of the available funds.  “As development pressures increase on the Coastside, it’s essential that we set aside public spaces for both the community and the critters to enjoy.  With the City of Half Moon Bay and the Half Moon Bay Open Space Trust willing to raise the matching funds necessary, I knew I had to convince the State to contribute its share.”

“We’re lucky to live in an area that understands open space and conservation are essential to quality of life,” said Simitian.  “This property will continue to provide open space, wild life habitat, recreational opportunities and wonderful coastal views.  It’s a win-win-win-win situation.”

In a letter to Simitian, Department of Parks and Recreation Director Rusty Areias thanked Simitian for his “efforts to bring this project to fruition.  Your continuing advocacy for the project has been most helpful in highlighting the merits of the project and its worthiness for funding … we look forward to the successful preservation of this marvelous piece of California coastline.”

The $1.5 million and matching funds will contribute to the eventual preservation of 38 acres of coastal bluffs adjacent to Half Moon Bay State Beach.  The property lies entirely within the city limits of Half Moon Bay and runs parallel to the coast between Kelly Avenue and Poplar Street along part of the City’s seven-mile recreation trail.

Originally acquired by Ocean Shore Railroad to build a rail line from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, the coastal bluffs were later subdivided into roughly 130 individual parcels for residential development.  Most of the land remains vacant and in a natural state where it provides critical habitat, open space, and scenic views.

Half Moon Bay Mayor Deborah Ruddock said she was “absolutely delighted” by the news. “This is a major victory for open space protection on the Coastside.  A special thanks to Assemblyman Simitian for his determined and effective efforts.”



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