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March 21, 2011

President Carole Groom and


Members of the Board of Supervisors
400 County Center
Redwood City, CA 94063

Re: The Big Wave project’s location is inherently unsafe for housing people with
developmental disabilities

Dear President Groom and Members of the Board,

Committee for Green Foothills (CGF) respectfully requests that you deny this project, as it does not
comply with the General Plan, the Local Coastal Program and the Zoning Regulations. Most
importantly, the proposed Big Wave housing would place a vulnerable population at risk of
extraordinary natural and man-made hazards.

Tsunami Hazards: The tragic destruction in Japan caused by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and
tsunami are sobering reminders that even the world’s best earthquake and tsunami- prepared
country is not infallible. In California, we are at risk from a similar size (magnitude 9 or greater)
undersea earthquake and tsunami originating along the Cascadia Subduction Zone - which extends
from Cape Mendocino to Vancouver Island.

The County’s Zoning Regulations, Section 6326.2 TSUNAMI INUNDATION AREA


CRITERIA states (in relevant part):

“The following criteria shall apply within all areas defined as Tsunami Inundation Hazard Areas:
(a) The following uses, structures, and development shall not be permitted: publicly-
owned buildings intended for human occupancy other than park and recreational facilities;
schools, hospitals, nursing homes, or other buildings or development used primarily by
children or physically or mentally infirm persons.” (emphasis added).
The proposed Big Wave housing would be located within the California Department of
Conservation’s 2009 tsunami inundation area. Protection of Big Wave’s vulnerable group of
developmentally disabled people from locating in an inherently hazardous area, as required by your
long-established Zoning Regulations, is your Board’s moral and ethical duty, and would not be
discrimination against them, as the Staff Report asserts. Indeed, the Zoning Regulations protect
several categories of buildings and development from tsunamis including publicly owned buildings,
or buildings used by children, and people in schools, hospitals or nursing homes, in addition to
people with physical or mental disabilities.

Earthquake and Flood Hazards: The proposed Big Wave housing would be adjacent to the
seismically active Seal Cove/San Gregorio fault, which is capable of producing very violent shaking
in an earthquake, atop clayey soils that are subject to liquefaction, sand boils, differential
settlement, and fault rupture, and within the mapped 100 year flood plain.

3921 E. Bayshore Road 650.968.7243 PHONE info@GreenFoothills.org


Palo Alto, CA 94303 650.968.8431 FAX www.GreenFoothills.org
Committee for Green Foothills
March 21, 2011
Page 2 of 2

Airport Hazards: The FAA, Caltrans Division of Aeronautics, and the San Mateo County
Department of Public Works have all objected – repeatedly - to placing housing for
developmentally disabled individuals so close to the airport, and further cite the County’s
acceptance of the FAA grant assurances which could jeopardize future FAA funding for airport
improvements if the County approves this project.

Princeton Waterfront Industrial Hazards: The Waterfront Zoning District in Princeton adjacent
to Big Wave allows all but the most hazardous chemicals to be stored indoors and outdoors.
Housing is not permitted in this zoning district, except for a limited number of Caretakers quarters,
with a requirement for property owners to acknowledge that Caretakers may be subject to
inconveniences arising from the industrial uses there.

CGF supports building of affordable housing – in the right location. Unfortunately, Big Wave’s
proposed housing is remote from existing services, has difficult access, and would expose a
vulnerable population to unacceptable risks from both natural and man-made hazards.

There are numerous additional issues regarding the project’s lack of compliance with the General
Plan, LCP, and zoning, as well as the County Subdivisions Regulations, as well as deficiencies in
the EIR. A new issue of segmentation under CEQA has been raised by Revised Condition #66
related to the future trail bridge over the stream channel, which proposes to treat the bridge as a
separate project under CEQA and the LCP. We further note that the EIR did not adequately
evaluate potential project impacts upon several species of concern identified in the Fitzgerald
Marine Reserve Master Plan, including avian species and the Dusky Footed Wood Rat (DFWR).
There are observable nests in the riparian area next to the stream channel between the two project
sites. It is possible that some DFWR nests on County Park property were destroyed by the creation
of the unpermitted road through this riparian and wetland area.

CGF is willing to work with the County and the proponents of the Big Wave housing to find a more
suitable location. CGF respectfully urges your Board to uphold our appeal, deny the project and
not to certify the EIR.

Sincerely,

Lennie Roberts, San Mateo County Legislative Advocate