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What does it take to open a new public park?
I had never fully entertained this question before working at POST, and I’m finding that the answer is complicated, unfolding on a daily basis. There are so many things to consider: Who is the park for? What do we need to keep in mind during development? Where will the funding come from? These are some of the questions we are now grappling with as we work to get Tunitas Creek Beach (a few miles south of Half Moon Bay) ready for the public to enjoy.
To back up a little, POST acquired 58 acres on the southern end of the beach in 2017, putting an end to activities like excessive parties and campouts that were damaging habitat and polluting the landscape. Quite simply, this beach was being loved to death.
After acquiring the property, San Mateo County Parks (SMCP) took the role of managing the land and ensuring it would no longer be abused. In partnership with SMCP, we are currently determining what the future holds for this beach – how it can best serve the community as a gorgeous new public park. We recently wrapped up an early community engagement process, and I wanted to share our progress:
In the fall of 2018, a group of individuals came together to form the Tunitas Creek Beach Community Advisory Committee (CAC) with a shared goal of creating a new public beach. Together, we recognized ways to improve communication around the project, identified priorities for the beach and found common values (Environment, Equity, Experience, Education) that will help shape the future of Tunitas Creek Beach.
The CAC effort provided essential, early community input for our upcoming project, which will consist of a three-year planning, design and permitting phase, resulting in safe beach access as well as appropriate park amenities such as parking and restrooms.
In a special July Parks Commission meeting on the beach, and a follow up Board of Supervisors meeting in September, we presented the CAC’s outcomes, summarized in our Vision Report, which you can read here. I hope that from this report, you can begin to understand the complexity of the issues, the park’s potential and the values we hope will guide the team working on this project.
But the work of the CAC is just the beginning, through the County of San Mateo, there will be multiple opportunities to provide input at public meetings so that you can help shape the future of Tunitas Creek Beach. The meetings will take place throughout 2020, and as POST plans to be highly involved, we hope to see you there. There will also be other feedback mechanisms like surveys, focus groups and other means.
Please sign up for updates here to be informed about upcoming meetings and other ways to get involved.
The protection of Tunitas Creek Beach and the opportunity to transform it into a new park is truly a community-led success story. The collective efforts of individual community members, county and state agencies and nonprofit organizations have led to dramatic improvements in public safety, environmental protection and beach access. Whether you have been deeply involved with this project or are just now discovering the beach, we hope you will join us for the next phase of this exciting project. Thank you.
Getting this beach ready for the public to safely enjoy will take a whole host of people. It will take the specialists – the landscape architects, the biologists, the engineers, the storytellers; it will take the partners – the land protection groups, the long-term park managers, leadership at county and state levels; and it will take the community – to help us shape the park’s future and ultimately make sure that we’re all on the right track.
We hope you’ll join us in the next stages of the project as we work toward opening a spectacular destination where we can come together, relax and savor California’s magnificent coast.
We suggest waiting for the park to be complete so that you can safely enjoy it, but if you really can’t wait to visit, please be sure to read this county ordinance first.
Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 79,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Learn more