Politics, music to rock Brisbane

Publisher: San Francisco Examiner
Reporter: Kate Williamson

South San Francisco, Calif. -

It will be a rollicking week in both politics and music for fans of San Bruno Mountain, as officials consider a housing proposal for a hillside quarry while conservationists prep for a bluegrass fundraiser.

Tonight, the Brisbane City Council will chose whether to hear and accept a proposal to develop 183 housing units in the Guadalupe Valley Quarry, which some view as a bad neighbor for its tendency to generate extensive dust so close to the village and sensitive mountain ecosystems.

San Bruno Mountain constitutes more than 3,000 acres of highland open space ringed by South San Francisco, Colma, Daly City and Brisbane, and is home to four species of endangered butterflies and a host of other native plant and animal life.

The proposal by California Rock & Asphalt Inc., David Johnson and Bradley Johnson has been controversial from the get-go, with residents and activists protesting that, while they'd like to lose the quarry, they're not keen on a permanent residential development in its place.

Tonight's discussion will involve whether to change the city's general plan to allow residential use of the quarry, a necessary step toward annexing the county-governed land and allowing the project.

In so doing, the council must consider that residential-only use runs counter to current development theories promoting mixed-use projects, according to a staff report. The council will also vote on an agreement related to putting the project on the ballot, a requirement for quarry development.

Meanwhile, the community action groups Friends of San Bruno Mountain and San Bruno Mountain Watch will host local bluegrass band The San Bruno Mountain Boys in a donations-requested show March 25 to support a new greenhouse for native plant restoration. The Friends' old nursery in South City's Orange Park was demolished as part of park rehabilitation, Mountain Watch Executive Director Philip Batchelder said. The groups already have approvals for the new Bayshore Boulevard site donated by the Universal Paragon company.

"We're shooting for $15,000 to get it up and running," Batchelder said. "We're [also] going to need a lot of volunteer labor to help build it."

The San Bruno Mountain Boys are a 20-year-old occasional band put together by San Francisco resident Doug Holloway, who said the membership has firmed up in the past five years. He named the band after the mountain because bluegrass bands are often named for mountains, and San Bruno Mountain is a precious habitat that needs preservation, he said.