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...

MONDAY, JUNE 16, 2014 AT 11:15AM


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

MONDAY, APRIL 29, 2013 AT 5:52PM

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 toconvince 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

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 Development

Site of Proposed Callan Development

The 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.

November 2012 waterline break and mudslide

November 2012 waterline break and mudslide

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.

The 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.

Sign Hill Supporters Speak Up at SSF Council Meeting...


Supporters of maintaining the open space on the north slopes of Sign Hill in South San Francisco gathered at the August 22, 2012 South San Francisco City Council Meeting.  During the "Public Comments" period, supporters from San Bruno Mountain Watch, Friends of Sign Hill and South San Francisco residents expressed their concern over proposed development projects.

To view the video of this Public Comments session go to http://www.ssf.net/media/council.aspx and click on the video link for the August 22, 2012 City Council Meeting.  In the right hand section for the agenda, scroll down and click on the PUBLIC COMMENTS link.  this will start the video at the beginning of the Public Comments portion of the video.  The first person to speak is from the Harbor District, but right after him are the supporters of Sign Hill.

Saving Sign Hill in South San Francisco

FRIDAY, AUGUST 10, 2012 AT 8:56AM

The north and east slopes of Sign Hill in South San Francisco are ripe for development.  SBMW has partnered with Friends of Sign Hill in a major advocacy effort to find ways to save this area as open space.  Our Sign Hill webpages are full of good information.

First Public Meeting to Save Sign Hill...

WEDNESDAY, JULY 18, 2012 AT 1:22PM

On July 17, 2012 San Bruno Mountain Watch and Friends of Sign Hill joined forces to host a well-attended informational meeting to present background on Sign Hill and to look at ways to save Sign Hill from development (Event Archive posting).

The following article by Kamila Silva Wolfe, published in the Peninsula Progress July 25, is a comprehensive overview of the meeting.  You can download a printer-friendly version of the article.

Preserving All of Sign Hill
Kamala Silva Wolfe, Peninsula Progress

David Schooley, founder of San Bruno Mountain Watch, spoke to a full house on Tuesday July 17th during an informational meeting regarding the preservation of privately held lots on South San Francisco’s iconic Sign Hill. “The prevailing winds from the west help sow the seeds that blow across from San Bruno Mountain” Schooley explained. “This area is very delicate and important to the environment of this region. San Bruno Mountain and Sign Hill are very much connected”

Schooley’s presentation included a slide show of the evolution of the area. “It’s important to remember what used to be and what we have done to change things.” Schooley continued. “This area was home to the Ohlone people for over 5,000 years and San Francisco bay encompassed 650 square miles. Today the bay has been reduced by a third of what it used to be. We fought hard to save San Bruno Mountain from the larger planned development. And we must work to save Sign Hill as well.

San Bruno Mountain Watch Executive Director, Ken McIntire, spoke of the work that was done in the efforts to save San Bruno Mountain from more extensive development. He noted working to save the balance of Sign Hill would also involve finding the funding. “In conversations with the Trust for Public Land, we realize we need more agencies to step up and help share the costs, to show some serious commitment to this endeavor.” McIntire explained, “Sign Hill is unique in that it is more accessible than most of San Bruno Mountain. A hike on San Bruno Mountain may take a bit more planning; Sign Hill is right here in people’s backyards. People are out walking their dogs, clearing their heads, and enjoying the views while getting some exercise. This is an ideal place for folks to enjoy some wild nature, something you will not find in our city parks. Getting people outside and into fresh air and exercise is a goal shared by many agencies such as Kaiser Permanente. We need to reach out to other business partners to find a way to make this happen.”

Neighbors Weigh In

The northern slope of Sign Hill as it faces Terra Bay. This is the area that has community members working preserve; Friends of Sign Hill photoMost of the public were surprised to learn that the northern facing side of Sign Hill is not public land, rather it is owned by private parties. The area consists of 45 acres divided into 3 parcels of 20+ acres each. Local community members agreed that the back side of Sign Hill should remain open. “We have too much building going on, we need to keep some space open” Kathy Bower said. “That is the reason I bought my home and settled in this area, I like the open space.”

Jeanne Mason commented, “I was raised in South City and moved to Larch back in 1978. I always thought this side of Sign Hill was owned by the Forestry Department, I never even thought it was privately owned.”

Dee Molina from Brisbane voiced that preserving the rest of Terra Bay Development on San Bruno Mountain across from Sign Hill; SBMW photoSign Hill is not only a benefit to the nearby neighbors, but to all who live in the area. “I drive through this area daily and I’ve always considered the hill open space, as it should be. There are so many other people who believe this hill should be left alone and they need to be included in any future meetings.”

The audience included San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine and his son, along with South San Francisco Council Member Mark Addiego. Both agree it is a worthy cause to seek ways to preserve this open space. “This was a good turn-out, especially for the first meeting” Addiego said. “I remember the beginning of the Save San Bruno Mountain movement back in the ‘70’s when there were only 5 of us meeting in Betty Higgins living room. People have become more sophisticated about information sharing and speaking up; this is a good start tonight.” A head count showed 50 people at Tuesday’s meeting.

Also in attendance was South San Francisco’s Chief Planner Suzy Kalkin, along with Principal Planner Gerry Beaudin. Kalkin had previously met with the core group when they first reached out seeking information on city zoning and the master plan. Park and Recreation Commissioner David Gallagher came by prior to his meeting with the SSFUSD Oversight Committee, to show his support for the community meeting. Dave and Morena Gallagher had worked with their neighbors in their Sterling Terrace, along with then Mayor Joe Fernekes, during the last proposal of building on the back side of Sign Hill in the 1990’s. At that time the plans submitted for the parcel across from Hillside School were not in accordance with the city’s zoning and were eventually shut down after a legal battle. Recently the eastern lot went into foreclosure and is now owned by another private party. Records indicate the price was under a million dollars, closer to $850,000, reported Rebecca Schulman, a board member of the San Bruno Mountain Watch. Developers that had been working with the previous owner believe they still may have a binding contract.

Neighbor Ador Arcalas has lived in the area since 1979 and is a realtor with Prudential in San Bruno. “Perhaps the owners may want to donate a portion of this land to the betterment of the community. To have their name associated with saving Sign Hill would be a wonderful legacy.” Another attendee questioned whether the city would be able to do a ‘swap for property’ by taking over Sign Hill and offering the current owners other property in the city that is ripe for development. A general reply brought up the fact that the dissolution of the Redevelopment Agency made any such ideas impractical at this time. The city properties under the RDA have now been moved to a Successor Agency while the state agencies work out the details.

Local residents Loretta Brooks and Chuck Heimstadt head up the South San Francisco Weed Warriors which is a group dedicated to maintaining critical habitat on the southern slope of San Bruno Mountain near the former Hillside Elementary School, directly across from Sign Hill. They have extensive knowledge of the rich diverse plant life on our mountain and our hills and they look forward to educating those that join them on the fourth Friday and Saturdays of the month between 9:00am until noon. In addition they volunteer to help areas of our Sign Hill, maintaining trails and cleaning up trash left by less responsible visitors. “I have requested that a bag dispensary be installed at the Stonegate entrance” Loretta reported. “Too many dog owners do not pick up after their animal which is required by our city ordinance. Across the road on San Bruno Mountain dogs are not allowed because it is a County Park. We all need to do our part to keep our open spaces clean and thriving for the native habitat.”

URGENT -- Park Poised to Reject Pond Restoration Project



Dear Friends and Supporters,
Thank you for the emails you have sent to Supervisor Tissier.  We have been in communication with her office, and it seems that the project is now getting a serious look.  However, the Water Board, the plaintiff in the Clean Water Act suit, from which the $100,000 project money comes, has decided that if San Mateo County cannot give preliminary approval by April 29th, they will find another project for the money.

Last winter San Bruno Mountain Watch was chosen restore one of the shallow ponds in the Bog Area of San Bruno Mountain, as part of a Clean Water Act settlement. (The City of San Bruno violated the CWA, and they need to fund a project as part of their settlement.)  This project would improve the water quality flowing into SF Bay, and provide habitat for more species, including wetland plants, insects, amphibians, reptiles and birds. In our long-term vision, this pond would be one of several on the mountain that would support the threatened red-legged frog and the endangered San Francisco Garter Snake.

The San Mateo County Department of Parks originally said agreed in concept in November, 2010, then said “no” in February, and finally, in March, gave SBMW a list of 11 approvals that would be needed, in addition to the permits that would be required once the park gives approval (i.e., San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, US Army Corps of Engineers, California Department of Fish & Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). At this date, the time for securing this project funding is very short. If you would like more background on this issue, links to the relevant documents are below.

Your letters are still needed.  Please write to Supervisor Tissier, thanking her for her interest in this project, and urging her to speed up the process so that this project money will end up enhancing San Bruno Mountain.  An email form is included below, along with sample text.

Educators and students -- your letters may be especially helpful, as this project would include educational opportunities.

The pond enhancement project would improve the mountain’s biodiversity, provide educational opportunities for schools, and increase community involvement through the volunteer effort needed to do the project.  This project is fully in line with the San Bruno Mountain County Park Master Plan, which calls for the stewardship of natural resources and biodiversity.

Here are links to the supporting documentation from San Mateo County and San Bruno Mountain Watch:

Supplemental Environmental Project Description

List of County Requirements given to SBMW on March 2, 2011

Letter from Gary Lockman, Superintendent Department of Parks to SBMW

HCP In Relationship to Bog Enhancement Project

Park Master Plan In Relationship to the Proposed "San Bruno Mountain Bog Trail Freshwater Marsh Enhancement Project"

Letter from SBMW to Gary Lockman, Superintendent Department of Parks

SMBW has been trying to negotiate with the parks department about this for a couple months, and is now appealing to County Supervisor Adrienne Tissier (District 5) for help.  Please help us  by writing a brief email to Supervisor Tissier in support of this project.  The key points to stress are outlined below.


Ken McIntire, San Bruno Mountain Watch

Click here to send an email to County Supervisor Tissier -- -- urging her to advocate on behalf of the Pond Enhancement Project. Please copy us on it too -- sanbruno@mountainwatch.org.  Here are some key points:

•Thanks for the interest Supervisor Tissier has shown

•This Bog Pond Enhancement Project has many environmental, educational and social benefits.

 •The Department is undergoing budget cuts and has no money of its own to put towards fulfilling its primary purpose SBMt. County Park.

 •The Bog Pond Enhancement project would not cost the parks department extra money.

 •The primary role of the parks department on San Bruno Mountain is to protect and enhance the natural resources there.

•Why walk away from this project?  Natural resources (wetlands, endangered species habitat, biodiversity) should be enhanced whenever possible.

The Baylands EIR Scoping Meeting


On Tuesday evening, January 4th, local residents came to give input during the early stages of the official Environmental Impact Review (EIR) process for the Brisbane Baylands.  This "scoping" meeting was one opportunity for people to express what questions they want answered by the EIR. This means that the planning process, which usually ends with the developer getting legal permission to build something, is nearing its final stages.  It may take another couple of years or more, but when it’s done, there will be plan that is “bankable” for the developer, if the economy is right and builders want a piece of it. 

Through the Redevelopment Agency, money for the development's infrastructure will be raised by bondsthat the city is ultimately responsible for.  If everything goes as planned, the Universal Paragon Corporation (UPC) will makes up its investment and make a lot of money while the city's coffers also grow. But should the developer go bankrupt, the city may end up holding the debt.


But the beginning of the whole process started with the garbage that lies under the Baylands. Memories of the unregulated Brisbane garbage dump are rightfully sore points in the minds of Brisbane citizens who were around in the 50’s and 60’s.  They don’t think the uncharacterized dump is safe to spend much time on, let alone live on. Brisbane resident Linda Salmon pointed out that any housing proposed on the Baylands would be in violation of the General Plan.  She recommended throwing the developer's plan out.

And residents don’t want to endure the years of pile driving it will take to underpin the 12.5 million square feet of buildings that are proposed, as Brisbane environmentalist Michele Salmon pointed out. Such shaking would disturb all life in the area, not just humans.  Brisbane doesn't know much about the environmental impacts of such shock waves, but it should find this out through the EIR process.  With species and ecosystems collapsing at an alarming rate, ignorance of knowable impacts can't be tolerated.

Sustainability is an expressed goal of the Brisbane General Plan, and supposedly of the Baylands planning process.  But perhaps people are foolishly inventing fantasy when they claim that a large, intense development can really be ecologically sustainable.  That's is the view of many environmentalists in Brisbane, who view the Developer’s Sponsored Plan (DSP) as simply a means of making as much money as possible -- not a serious attempt at sustainability.  A serious attempt, environmentalist Dana Dillworth feels, would have started with the preservation of the living, breathing watershed, and developed a plan around that.

What angers many of the "elders" of the town is that over the 21 years that the Baylands has been on the city’s radar already, the public has had to work extremely hard (studying, public records requests, writing, speaking up, screaming and sometimes swearing) in order to get their ideas really taken in to account.  To bring some environmental reality into the decision making process has taken a lot of work against the powerful forces resisting it.

It is really Brisbane’s seasoned environmental veterans, who have led and continue to lead this fight for real sustainability. They are knowledgeable, plain spoken, and tired of being “nice”.  In their view, there is too much at stake, and they want Brisbane to be a positive example for others -- not fantasysustainable development, but real sustainable development.

One truly more sustainable plan  and therefore a more real plan does exist -- the Renewable Energy Plan (REP). The REP’s primary goal is to produce more renewable energy than it uses.  It doesn’t allow housing, the total build-out is about 1/12th that of the DSP, and preserves more historic wetlands than the other plans.  It was developed by Citizens for Renewable Energy in the Bay Lands (CREBL) and led by Tony Attard and Anja Miller, a former Brisbane. The Renewable Energy Plan is classified as a CEQA alternative plan, which along with the No-project alternative, is used to compare with the more “real” plans -- the DSP, and a so-called Community Preferred Plan (CPP).  The CPP was developed partly through a series of community meetings and workshops as an attempt to make a consensus plan from all the community ideas and goals about the project.  Its buildout size of 8.5 million sq. ft., however, was notarrived at through a public process.

It appears that there have been subtle attempts to omit or understate the REP, though the Brisbane staff has been responsive to fixing the problem.  For example, when the scoping document first came out, the REP was not yet on the city’s website, though the others were.  Apparently, one result of this omission was that the Wikipedia article on the project mentioned only the two more “official” plans.  At the scoping hearing, the public was assured that the Renewable Energy Plan would get serious consideration, and could become the adopted plan if the council wanted it to.

CREBL, Citizens League for Environmental Action Now (CLEAN), San Bruno Mountain Watch (SBMW) and the rest of the environmental warriors of Brisbane know this means they must attend a lot of meetings, read materials, speak out, and get others to speak out in order for the Brisbane Baylands have a truly sustainable outcome.

Development of the Brisbane Baylands


The Baylands EIR process is about to unfold.  The Brisbane Baylands is a "brown field" where San Francisco dumped its garbage for about 50 years, south of Candlestick Park, between Bayshore Blvd and Highway 101.  The owner, Universal Paragon Corporation (UPC), proposes more than 14.5 million square feet of building there, including 4500 dwelling units.

The present Brisbane General Plan requires that no housing be built on the Baylands, unless there is a vote of the citizens that allows it.   Brisbane, which bore the brunt of the garbage landfill when it was in action, doesn't think it is wise to have people living on an uncharacterized pre-modern dump.  People want the site made safe, with as much open space as possible.

UPC points out that they offer a way to raise the money for a clean-up -- lots of building, including housing, which is the most lucrative kind.

CREBL (Citizens for Renewable Energy on the Bay Lands) has offered a Renewable Energy Alternative, which will be studied in the EIR. (See http://www.brisbaneca.org/baylands/eir-alternatives for the CREBL Alternative.) It proposes that the Baylands be an energy positive site, generating more electrical power than it uses, through renewable sources like solar and wind power. The building footprint would be relatively small, and focused on renewable energy research and development, and some alternative energy related light manufacturing. The CREBL plan implies that cleanup for minimum development is less costly and possibly doable through public sources.

SBMW supports the CREBL alternative, which works to reduce greenhouse gasses, and preserves open space.  It is the plan, we feel, that is closest to being truly sustainable from an environmental perspective. It would also have the least impact on the rare habitats on and around the mountain, which are our primary concern. To contact CREBL, email bris.crebl@yahoo.com.

It should be noted that the High Speed Rail System is looking for a train yard, and has the right of Eminent Domain.  The Baylands is one of the potential sites for this yard.

Citizens were given a short time over the Christmas holidays to submit scoping comments for the EIR. They are due January 10th.  (Scoping comments are questions that people would like answered in the EIR, which is supposed to compare the three plans in terms of environmental factors.)  Citizens really need to weigh in.  It is unfortunate that the process has started with what appears to be a strategy to avoid some participation by having comments due when people are distracted by the holidays.

The Notice of Preparation for the EIR is available at here.  Comments should be submitted to John Swiecki, jswiecki@ci.brisbane.ca.us.

Advocacy Update: August 10, 2010

TUESDAY, AUGUST 10, 2010 AT 10:24PM

Dear Friends and Supporters,

I am visiting one of the hidden treasures on San Bruno Mountain, a small shell-mound, evidence of the Ohlone civilization that lived in the Bay Area for more than 5000 years.  A very stable, largely peaceful human presence -- for five thousand years.  It is humbling to think about the Ohlone, and to be here, listening to the birds in the canyon, seeing the oyster shells on the mound and the surrounding buckeye trees...its a good place to think.

Across the way, I see the Northeast Ridge, with two housing developments on either end of it, connected by a road -- Mission Blue Way -- with a bad erosion problems above it. Both developments and the road have had issues with poor construction, in less than twenty years.  

Seventy-one more houses have been approved by all the government entities involved -- local, county, and federal.  With their combined wisdom and the developer’s money, they decided that71 more large houses on this hillside will bring no more long term harm to the endangered species.  In fact, the building will be a good thing, they say, by providing more money for habitat repairs.  No matter that the habitat repairs are necessary because of modern over-development in the first place: the fragmentation of natural ecosystems; massive infusions of invasive non-native plants; and air, water and ground pollution.  

A week ago, I received the news that the judge ruled against us in our lawsuit aimed at lessening the impacts of the new development.  I went up to the site of the future housing project yesterday for the first time, and visualized 71 more three-car garage homes at the site.   It was depressing. --- SBMW will soon decide whether or not to appeal this decision, or what other legal action, if any, would have a good chance of bringing some relief to what is left of the northeast ridge. 

Please know, though, that we feel even more urgency as a result of the ruling to preserve what will be left of San Bruno Mountain. It may be hard to imagine our civilization stabilizing and lasting for 5000 years, as the Ohlones’ did. But we can certainly imagine preserving this mountain and its native species as a portal into the natural world for many generations to come.  That is our firm intention.

Please continue joining us as we work to preserve our wild mountain.

Advocacy Update: 7/5/10

MONDAY, JULY 5, 2010 AT 10:18PM

San Bruno Mountain Watch has opposed building on the mountain from the beginning.  Nothing is more permanently destructive to the mountain’s open space and biodiversity than roads, houses, landscaping and the accompanying human activities.

When the first Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) in the country was created for San Bruno Mountain in 1983, we opposed that too.  HCPs allow development on endangered species habitat by utilizing a loophole in the Endangered Species Act which allows the killing of endangered species.  (For more information on HCPs, see our website, www.mountainwatch.org).  HCPs started on San Bruno Mountain and now number more than 1200 nationwide. They are rigged procedures that favor development while paying lip-service to conservation and endangered species protection.   

Over the past few years we have waged an almost continual battle against Brookfield Homes’ Landmark at the Ridge project, on the Northeast Ridge of the mountain, which contains valuable Mission Blue and Callippe Silverspot butterfly (both endangered species) habitat.  With the help of many of you who wrote letters, attended public meetings and supported our efforts financially, we delivered the message loud and clear that “NO MORE!” development should take place there.

However, both the San Mateo County Supervisors and the Brisbane City Council voted to approve this destructive project, leaving San Bruno Mountain Watch with one final option --  a legal challenge, which we made. The case is now awaiting a Superior Court judge’s decision, which should come by August 5th.  Because of the San Bruno Mountain HCP’s long history and the layers of laws and agencies involved, this has been a very involved and time-consuming case. 

Because such habitat destruction is such an important issue for us, we have also been reviewing our legal options on the federal level (our present lawsuit is based on state law).  The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) has been generous enough to help us with this ongoing review. If another lawsuit make sense, we would like to pursue it since legal challenges are perhaps the most effective means of protecting our remaining natural resources and endangered species, as our past legal track record has shown. Natural ecosystems are diminishing at an alarming and unsustainable rate and it is important to expose HCPs as rigged games that they are.   

Our legal work is quite expensive, taking a lot of staff time as well as financial resources. We have been lucky enough to get a couple of grants along with the pro-bono services of the CBD, but this support only begins to cover the cost.  A lot of support needed to carry this program forward.