Updates for Advocacy Issues


Daly City Dunes waiting for approval...

San Bruno Mountain Watch has worked for years to preserve and protect from development a privately owned portion of the Daly City Dunes - the last remnant of an ancient and unique dune system containing rare dune plants.

During this lengthy and intense campaign in the face of the threat of development, the owner of the "blue" parcels expressed an interest in donating his property to open space and that process is nearly complete. A June 18, 2014 article in The Examiner features the parcel owner and his wish to donate the land to San Mateo County Parks.

In June 2014 the San Mateo County Parks Commission agreed unanimously that the County Parks Department should annex this 3.2 acre parcel into San Bruno Mountain State and County Park. What remains is approval by San Mateo County Supervisors which is anticipated to occur in 2015.

San Bruno Mountain Watch was contracted by the City of Daly City to perform the restoration work needed to repair the damage from a major waterline break and mudslide in November 2012. Our Mission Blue Nursery propagated hundreds of native plants - native perrenials and grasses - to restore and stabilize the damaged slope. Then our Stewardship Saturday volunteers took over and worked every Saturday for months to replant the natives. SBMW Stewardship Director Joe Cannon even enlisted many students from San Francisco City College’s biology department where he teaches.

Del Schembari, Mountain Watch Board Member, tirelessly shepherded this project for SBMW over this multi-year effort. Read Del's dunes update article in our July 2013 newsletter for background.


Daly City Dunes parcel acquisition update...

San Bruno Mountain Watch has been working to preserve the privately owned portion of the Daly City Dunes for years. The battle hiccuped when the "red" parcels were bought by Hilldale School to expand their facilities.

However, during the lengthy and intense campaign to prevent development of the dunes, the owner of the "blue" parcels showed an interest in donating his property to open space! And that process is nearly complete!

This month the San Mateo County Parks Commission agreed unanimously that the County Parks Department should annex this 3.2 acre parcel into San Bruno Mountain State and County Park. The remaining step is for our County Supervisors to also agree at their monthly meeting.  After that, we can really celebrate!

Many thanks to Del Schembari who tirelessly shepherded this project for SBMW and many others who advocated for the dunes and supported this project by attending meetings , writing letters, and providing financial and moral support.

Read Del's dunes update article in our July 2013 newsletter for background. A June 18, 2014 article in The Examiner features the parcel owner and his wish to donate the land to San Mateo County Parks.


Protect the Daly City Dunes - an update

The Daly City Dunes parcels owned by members of the Callan Family (outlined in red above) were sold yesterday to the owners of the Hilldale School. John Sittner and his wife own the Pinnacle Schools, of which Hilldale School is one. Mr. Sittner plans to build a soccer field, some classrooms and some parking on these parcels. He hopes to double the size of Hilldale School to make it more profitable.

Mr. Sittner's newly acquired parcels sit adjacent to the hillside that eroded drastically when a 6 inch water main broke last November - (See our November 22, 2012 update for details). The site also contains a portion of an ancient Ohlone Indian shellmound site and a large population of an extremely rare plant, the San Francisco Lessingia. 

SBMW met with Mr. Sittner in December and again in January to talk about the environmental importance of this site, and the school's plans for it.  We offered to help him create a first rate environmental program for his school by leading hikes and restoration outings.  This would be an appropriate course for a school that claims to teach students to respect the environment.  

San Bruno Mountain Watch believes that the present Daily City Dunes open space
and its rare ecosystem should be saved, NOT built on. If Mr. Sittner develops his site, he would be splitting this rare habitat. 

The owner of property down slope from the site (parcels 003-404-070 and 003-460-280 in blue lettering) , also on the dunes, would like to donate his property to open space.

This is an opportunity for Daly City to gain a restored ancient dunes system through the cooperation of the city, the community, the surrounding schools and the environmental community.

Please help us in the coming months to  convince Daly City and Mr. Sittner that there is a very worthy future for the Daly City Dunes -- restoring the dunes as an educational conservation site where people of all ages can enjoy and learn about an ecological treasure.


  • write your Daly City Council Members
  • VOLUNTEER to help with the advocacy campaign
  • host a meeting

Contact Ken at 415-467-6631


Changing Story in the Daly City Dunes...

The November 13, 2012 waterline break and resulting mudslide could change the direction of development on the Daly City Dunes. Below is an update of San Bruno Mountain Watch's efforts.

Site of Proposed Callan DevelopmentThe Callan family plan to subdivide their two parcels into lots for 8 large homes has been put on hold for a time, while Hilldale School, located on adjoining property, studies the feasibility of buying the parcels for a major school expansion.  The school would like to build more classrooms and an athletic field.  SBMW met with one of the school owners to discuss their plan.  We explained why we would oppose any building on the site, and suggested solutions that might work for both for the environment and the school.  Subsequently, we reiterated our offer to work on finding mutually beneficial solutions, but Hilldale School has not responded.

There are two other privately held parcels adjacent to the Callan parcels, owned by Richard Haskins who is interested in selling, but not developing.  We are in early negotiations with him.

Meanwhile, we have been working on a federal grant specifically for purchasing the Lessingia habitat. We hope to purchase all four private lots.

It is a complex process, and there are several large hurdles to get over: (1) Raise 25% of the land purchase price from no-federal sources, and (2) Find a public agency that will accept ownership of the land if we are able to purchase it. Either San Mateo County Parks or Daly City could be that agency, and we are approacing the decisions makers in both agencies. We propose to take care of the Lessingia habitat for either agency.

Thanks to Del Schembari, Mountain Watch volunteers and some Daly City residents, the neighborhood surrounding the dunes has been canvassed and nearly 400 signatures on a petition to save the dunes have been collected. Public support is extremely important for getting the attention of the public officials whom we need to support this land preservation project.

With a San Mateo County Park on one side, Daly City’s Hillside Park on the other, and almost all the surrounding parcels also owned by Daly City, we envision quite a stretch of open space. Taglia Community Center sits on the edge of this space, and there are seven schools in the area, so there are great opportunities for community involvement in maintaining the dunes habitat, and for educational field trips and work sessions on the dunes.  Daly City Councilman David Canepa is supportive of preserving the open space, and would like to see a trail-head in the area leading into the county park.

November 2012 waterline break and mudslideThe recent waterline failure and resulting mudslide on November 13, 2012 demonstrates that much of this area is unstable. It is, after all, an ancient sand dune. Indeed, if the Callan’s project were already built, the waterline blowout would have taken out a portion of the road leading to the homes and accompanying infrastructure. Luckily, the blowout and mudslide missed all the homes below it. This mishap highlights the concerns of those homeowners who know well that housing on the dunes above them presents a risk.


Rare Flower Sparks Opposition to Dunes Development...

Subsequent to the disastrous waterline break and resulting mudslide at the Daly City Dunes, a proposed development plan is being looked at more closely. It's not just about an endangered California native plant anymore. Watch this CBS Channel 5 News report.