Publisher: San Mateo County Times
Reporter: Sean Maher
Deadline nears for comment on plan to protect butterflies on San Bruno Mountain
By Sean Maher
Posted: 08/29/2009 06:20:00 PM PDT
Updated: 08/29/2009 07:28:27 PM PDT
SAN BRUNO — Monday is the deadline for county residents to speak up about likely changes to a plan that deals with protecting endangered butterflies on San Bruno Mountain, officials said.
At stake is an amendment that would allow the final stage of a decades-old plan to build housing on the northeastern ridge of San Bruno Mountain, which is home to two endangered species of butterfly: the Callippe Silverspot and Mission Blue butterflies.
The San Bruno Mountain Habitat Conservation Plan is about 27 years old, and would allow Brookfield Homes to complete a housing development by building 71 houses on 20 acres of land, which is about half the scope of the developer's original proposal.
Habitat conservation plans are documents required by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from anyone from developers to research scientists whose work could affect endangered species. The Brisbane City Council approved the proposal in March 2008, and the plan was approved by the Fish and Wildlife Service this year.
Kevin McIntire, executive director of San Bruno Mountain Watch, a nonprofit that has been fighting the development plan, called habitat conservation plans "loopholes in the Endangered Species Act that allow for development in ways that damage endangered species."
McIntire said the San Bruno Mountain plan, which was first drafted in 1982, is based on outdated research that doesn't assess the current condition of the butterflies Advertisement or their habitat, and called for additional research before any final decisions are made.
The revised habitat conservation plan also includes a $4 million trust fund to be created by Brookfield and managed by a board of trustees who would all be city managers of cities surrounding the area, according to Dave Holland, director of the San Mateo County Parks Department.
"The grass the butterflies live on loses 51/2 to 8 acres per year because of other aggressive plant species like coastal scrub," Kevin Pohlson of Brookfield wrote in an e-mail. "The county doesn't have funds to combat that, and this would create that funding."
If the county approves the amendment to the habitat conservation plan the proposal for construction would then go to the city of Brisbane for approval before Brookfield can break ground.
"We're pretty sure they'll pass final approval for the project," McIntire said. "If that happens, it will be up to us to decide whether we feel we have a lawsuit we could win that would block development, or modify development. We're trying to be realistic, and they will probably get some kind of project there."
Anyone wishing to submit a comment before the hearing can contact Sam Herzberg of the San Mateo County Parks Department at 650-363-1823, firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail at 455 County Center in Redwood City, 94063. The county Board of Supervisors will hold a hearing on the issue Sept. 22.