The Pedro Point Basin


The Vision

Imagine a five-acre, outdoor, visitor-serving destination nestled between the Bay Area's most accessible surf break, a commercial kitchen, four restaurants, and a historic community center with a community-built playground.  This is the Pedro Point basin, the heart of our Community. 
This undeveloped site has a current land use designation of Commercial; specifically, it is also zoned commercial recreation, with a floor area ratio (FAR) of 0.2, which means that total development footage cannot exceed 20% of the site area.  This current designation promotes non-intensive recreational use of the Site, retaining most of the Site in open space.  

The PPCA welcomes commercial recreational opportunities such as an Ocean Discovery Centerkayak and bike rentals, a food truck park, a family amusement park, a Beach Club, or Outdoor movies. 

For questions  contact PPCA Vice President

Proposed Changes Would Build in an Environmentally Sensitive Habitat

The Proposed General Plan Update would change the land-use designation from very-low-density visitor-serving commercially-viable recreational uses to the development of high-density (70 homes, FAR = .5) housing on this property, despite a preponderance of evidence from the Community and state regulatory agencies.  The community welcomes dialogue, projects, and proposals consistent with state law.  

The PPCA has been, and remains committed to ensuring that any new projects, and in particular, large-scale land-use changes are sustainable and consistent with State Law.  We have a vision for this critical parcel as a bridge between Pacifica State Beach, the Bay Area's only accessible beginner's surf break, and the Pedro Point Headlands, via an ADA-Accessible Coastal Trail and corridor which is consistent with compatible land uses.   .  
"Importantly, siting new housing in areas projected to be impacted by sea level rise, without planning for adaptation, will not address the housing crisis over the long-term and will instead put more residences and lives at risk and exacerbate housing shortages."  (SB 9 Memo to Pacifica)

History: Despite Persistent Illegal Infill and Ditching, the Basin Was--and Remains--a Wetlands

Historically, the Pedro Point Field has been a wetlands owned by the Archdiocese of San Francisco, which was leased out for recreational uses such as a golf driving range.  These uses are compatible with the seasonal flooding inherent in a coastal wetlands.

In 1996 and 1997--despite community interest in acquiring this property to complement the Pedro Point Firehouse and shopping center--these parcels changed hands in three private transactions by "Calson Ronald W", "Calson Ronald W & Sheryl W", and "Calson Ronald W & Sheryl W Trs." for $550,000, total.  (Ron Calson of RC & Associates in Millbrae has also represented the Archdiocese of San Francisco as their Realtor.) 

The approved zoning at the time of the acquisition was--and remains--Commercial Recreation.   

Subsequent, persistent, illegal diking (below), dumping, and infill activities have eroded the native plant species and habitat in this designated wetlands and Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area (ESHA), but opportunities for restoration abound, consistent with State law, which requires cities to identify natural infrastructure that may be used for adaptation projects including the restoration of wetlands and coastal floodplains.  

Kayaking the Flooded Basin in 1950. 
January 19, 2006 and ongoing. A crew excavated multiple parallel drainage ditches in the flooded field to destroy wetlands habitat. No record of a Coastal Development Permit exists.

"Upzoning" this key parcel without adequate environmental review will severely impact the quality of life and coastal access rights of Pacifica's citizens and visitors to the Coast, while endangering future homeowners who are unwittingly purchasing new homes built on a flood plain and wetlands subject to liquefaction,  temporary protected by coastal armament built for the short-lived Ocean Shore Railroad.

However, the rains will continue to fall, and the water table will continue to rise with the adjacent sea.    October, 2021
The City and current owner propose a change to 70 new houses in the Pedro Point Field  along with some token commercial businesses, as taken from the developer's own (untrue) lobbying materials.  The owner acknowledges this property had previously been a golf driving range, a compatible use of this site.

1980 General Plan (In Effect)

The use of private lands suitable for visitor-serving commercial recreational facilities designed to enhance public opportunities for coastal recreation shall have priority over private residential, general industrial, or general commercial development, but not over agriculture or coastal-dependent industry. (H) (LU)  (Page 24)

The designated land use for this area is commercial with emphasis on coastal related and/or visitor-serving uses. ...this small, oceanside commercial center could be rejuvenated and  expanded to become an attractive visitor destination, as well as provide for  neighborhood retail needs. Building on the design character of some of the  older homes along Danmann and San Pedro which have been converted to shops,  adding a cultural center for performing arts and an attractive motel could,  if carefully designed, enhance the appearance of this area and provide  visitor services near the shoreline. After appropriate study of the protective character of the railroad berm, this area might be linked directly to the beach by removing a portion of the berm; however, alternatives to berm removal for access are preferred. An Environmental  Impact Report should be required for removal of the berm. 

Small ... Adequate public access through the development to the shoreline and a general orientation to coastal related/visitor-serving uses within the project would be appropriate in this location. Given these  criteria, commercial use of this portion of the neighborhood is consistent with the following policies of the Coastal Act: 30212 (Provision of Public  Access in New Developments), 30222 (Priority of Recreational/Visitor-Serving  Uses), 30250 (Concentration of Development), 30251 (Scenic Resources) and  30253 (Special Neighborhoods).  Page 24 

Pedro Point contains no established neighborhood park. While the neighborhood does contain significant scenic resources, an improved park site is essential for this physically isolated community, bordered by the ocean, steep hillsides and the Coast Highway. Such an area may be feasible within the undeveloped San Francisco Catholic Archdiocese property located on San Pedro Avenue. The Pedro Point Improvement Association and community surveys have indicated that park amenities should include areas and equipment for active play, children's play areas and equipment, some open space for passive recreation, restrooms and street improvements.  p.137


1995 Community Plan  "Pedro Point residents have registered strong support for preserving a major portion of the Archdiocese property in some form of open space. It would be a major setback to the entire Pedro Point community if any development calling for intensive coverage of the land with buildings and pavement were to take place without a generous reservation of land for open space use. The community would look with favor on an adequate provision for open space and a compatible mix of visitor-serving uses appropriate to the Point’s oceanside setting."

2011 Letter in Opposition to the Proposed Land Use Designation Change 

The Pedro Point Community Association rejected the Draft GPU's proposed Land Use Designation change, and recommended that it adopt "Commercial-Recreational," the designation most similar to the existing land use.  The PPCA also supported a change in the land use designation to Open Space. 

2013 Letter in Support of Commercial-Recreational Uses: In 2012, the PPCA again, after extensive discussions which included inviting the current-land owner (but not his wife, son, daughter, and daughter's boyfriend who also ran in violation of bylaws) to serve the PPCA board, voted for the field to remain in its current zoning of Commercial-Recreational. The proposed Commercial Recreation designation in the current Draft General Plan is intended for land use that would remain in a primarily undeveloped state but would allow for limited commercial establishments supporting recreational uses in keeping with the enjoyment of the beach and community character.

2014 DOCUMENTS: In 2014, after extensive neighborhood evidence was ignored, the PPCA unanimously voted to hire experts and an attorney, citing deficiencies in the City's General Plan Update and draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR).  The Proposed Land Use change did not pass, and the approved Land Use Designation remained Commercial Recreation.

The PPCA Has Long Supported Low-Intensity Visitor-Serving Light-Duty Uses in the Pedro Point Basin

Between 2015 and 2019, the GPU stalled as staff time was constrained due to "​multiple appeals and Council call-ups of Planning Commission items, and response to severe winter storm damage including the City’s demolition of apartments along Esplanade Avenue.  Therefore, the General Plan and LCP update process was delayed until FY 2017-18 when significant work and public engagement began on the sea level rise adaptation policies portion of the LCP."

As part of the renewed Plan Pacifica Process, the City hosted feedback meetings including one in Pedro Point.  The neighborhood was represented by Realtors, the land-owners, and citizens.  Yet, the overwhelming preference in Pedro Point was for a community that is Sustainable, Natural, and has Open Space, to support Pacifica as a vibrant destination for recreation.
This feedback, at right, taken from the City's own hired consultants, was ignored in the the City's own recommendation.
Neighbors submitted 82 pages of opposition to the proposed land use change.   

2019 Request For a Neighborhood-Specific Study to consider the robust community input and evidence presented thus-far.  This request was denied by the City without cause, though funding to create a Sharp-Park Specific plan was approved.

2020 Letter of Support of California Coastal Commission Comments on the City of Pacifica's draft Local Coastal Plan citing the many deficiencies and fatal flaws.

2022 General Plan Draft EIR Comments: in 2022 the City again ignored the law, existing conditions, and neighborhood input, and proposed a change to accommodate 70+ new homes.  Volunteers from the neighborhood passed the hat again to hire experts to point out the DEIR's fatal flaws.  


June 6 Final EIR Updates: On May 25, the City again disregarded Expert Testimony and proposed an unsupported change to the Field while omitting key evidence through a 3670 page unindexed document, with comments due June 1st, after Memorial Day weekend. Oral comments would be accepted at an in-person only meeting during the worse COVID surge in Pacifica history.  Due to a public outcry, five days were added, the meeting was moved to Zoom and the documents were re-released.

  • Letter from PPCA President Allison West: The City has worked on the General Plan Update for more than a decade. Give the time and attention to ultimately have a GPU that will benefit all citizens in Pacifica. I urge you to take steps to address the noted deficiencies, errors, and omissions – especially those related to the Pedro Point field - before adopting these important guiding documents for our city. Avoid drawn out challenges and potential litigation: we ask that you take your time, continue public comments, push the Planning Department to comply with the requirements to provide detailed responses to resident’s concerns

  • Law Office of Brian Gaffney, Retained Counsel: The City impermissibly tries to evade the EIR’s CEQA errors by hiding behind “a citywide assessment” that “does not assess project-specific impacts of potential future projects.” This Program EIR must analyze what is reasonably foreseeable from the proposed GP Update, and fails to do so.

  • Testimony of Richard Grassetti: The FEIR willfully ignored detailed evidence of significant impacts and instead impermissibly relies on vague plan policies and generic setting information for the entirety of its analysis.  An EIR may not substitute vague platitudes for analysis and evidence.  In my 40 years of experience, this is one of the most deficient program EIR’s I have ever encountered.  This type of avoided analysis document, where the plan was just assumed to mitigate all of its own impacts, and absent any real analysis, was prevalent into the 1990’s but faded out because the courts repeatedly found it impermissible.  While an FEIR may choose between conflicting experts’ opinions, if they are all supported by evidence, it cannot fail to disclose evidence contrary to its own conclusions, which, with respect to both flooding and biological resources on the Site, are entirely unsupported by either evidence or analysis.

June 24th Legal Comments- In support of an appeal to the General Plan filed by other appellants in the City alarmed over missing hazards and landslides in the City's maps, the PPCA took a second look at these same hazards and comments that the General Plan's hazard, wildfire, and air quality information is flawed and incomplete.  These documents should be updated and recirculated.