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Tuesday, July 3, 2001

For More Information, Contact:
Jamille Moens at (916) 651-4011


SACRAMENTO - Assemblyman Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) announced today that $1.5 million has been included in the State Budget for the acquisition and preservation of coastal bluffs and open space along the Half Moon Bay coastline.  Simitian has championed the project as a member of the California State Assembly’s Budget Committee.  Once the Legislature approves the State budget, the fate of the bluffs will rest with Governor Gray Davis, who will have 12 days to approve or deny the funding.

“Protecting this piece of property from development is number one on my list of conservation priorities this year,” said Simitian.  “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.”

This funding 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 .

Like Simitian, the Half Moon Bay Open Space Trust (HOST) has also earmarked these coastal bluffs as a top priority.  HOST President Dave Iverson, noted that, “Permanent preservation of these bluffs protects an area containing increasingly rare coastal prairie wetlands – habitat for shore birds, raptors, and other animals.  Seasonal wetlands and open space in the area are a delight for all of us to enjoy – State park lands to the north, city and county lands to the south, along with our wonderful walking and horseback trails.  If we could add these coastal bluffs – well, that would be wonderful news!”

Originally acquired by the Ocean Shore Railroad so it could 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.

A portion of the acreage is currently under option for purchase by a local group that has expressed interest in preserving the property.  Some of these options expire in September of this year, however, creating a sense of urgency for those who hope to protect the property.  Half Moon Bay Mayor Deborah Rudduck noted, “These 38 acres present a particular challenge for preservation. Without Assemblyman Simitian’s leadership, I was concerned we might lose the opportunity to add this crucial piece to the continuous urban greenbelt we’re putting together along the City’s 7-mile long coastline.”

In Simitian’s view, “It makes all the sense in the world for the State to contribute to this conservation effort.  The property is next to existing State beaches, where people from all over California come to enjoy themselves.  After visiting the site with local officials and residents,” Simitian remarked, “it was clear to me what a special place this is.  We’re lucky to live in a community that values open space and conservation as essential to quality of life.”

The funds for the purchase of the bluffs are in the budget bill now awaiting final approval by the Legislature (both the Assembly and Senate have previously approved the bluffs funding.)  The funding will, however, have to pass muster with Governor Gray Davis when the budget bill reaches his desk.  Once he receives the budget, the Governor has 12 days to approve or veto individual items.

Simitian expressed, “special thanks for the good work of State Senator Byron Sher,” whose help, he said, “was absolutely indispensable,” in securing Senate support for the proposal.  Funding for the purchase will come from Proposition 12 funds, the State park bond approved by voters in March 2000.  A local match will be required.




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