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June 7, 2021:  Daly City Project Proceeds with Parking Expanded for Olympic Way Retreat Center

Sand Hill Properties has updated the project to increase parking. See the revised project plans submitted in May 2021. 

We are extremely concerned about the stormwater runnoff issues associated with the massive, impermeable surfaces of the Olympic Way Retreat Center where runoff will have to be stored and then released, increasing bluff lubrication and increasing the potential for landslides.

Daly City has indicated they believe the project falls within current zoning uses. We believe this project is inconsistent with Daly City Zoning Ordinance as C1 Light Industrial as the project’s use as an event/meeting center is inconsistent with all C1 Light Industrial Commercial uses.

Further we believe the project is inconsistent with the Daly City Local Coastal Plan: 

    • The private property north of the Thornton State Beach access road shall be designated for commercial recreation uses.”
    • New development of properties referred to policies 3, 4, and 5 above, if permissible, shall include the following:

                     a) Improved vehicular access and extension  of public services to the site shall be allowed only as necessary to serve permitted development;
                     b) Location of development within the site  shall be in the least hazardous and least visually obtrusive configuration feasible.
                     c) Land coverage shall be compatible with the open space character and shall be less than 10% of the site area.
                     d) Structural mass shall be compatible with the open space character and shall be less than 20 feet in height or  one-story  above grade, whichever is less.   (Goals 1 & 3 and Sections 30250(a)   & 30253)

Finally, the environmental consultant for Daly City has indicated that they believe a mitigated negative declaration is feasible for the project under CEQA.

Per the LCP: “A resource protection zone shall be established between the sea and the first public road paralleling the sea. All  development within this zone shall   be subject to strict environmental review. (Goal 4 and  Section 30253)

We do not believe this project in any way should receive a mitigated negative declaration due to:

Environmental issues: risk to endangered flora and fauna in a resource protected overlay zone.
Design issues: the project design is inconsistent with the open space character of this vacant land.
Utilities and Water issues: Requires Daly City residents to fund the cost of bringing water, cable, sewer, electrical utilities under Skyline Blvd and build them into a sandy bluff in a landslide and seismic zone.
Hazards to public safety: A cavernous 40,000 square foot facility with underground utilities “open to  the public” on an eroding, sandy bluff in a landslide and seismic zone will undoubtedly pose a safety risk to the public.

Finally, the increase in traffic and the parking required by this development will pose a burden on the community and are in conflict with the Open Space goals of the General Plans for San Mateo County and Daly City.

We see no need for a private event center on Thornton Beach Bluff when such a project could be built in numerous other places in Daly City where development is less dangerous.  

We remain concerned that the taxpayers of Daly City will be held liable for the cleanup costs of a vacant building once it is abandoned due to lack of demand.

Please continue to write Daly City Council and urge their support in opposing this risky and untenable project. 

April 26, 2021: All Dug Up

What it looked like before:

April 20, 2021: We did it!

Today our petition officially reached over 10,000 signatures. 

April 15, 2021: Teacher’s Union votes to support TBBP’s mission

On April 13th, Jefferson Elementary Federation of Teachers Union AFT 3267 voted to formally oppose development at Thornton Beach. 

March 31, 2021: Cal Trans Working on Olympic Way

We plan to alert the media once the testing process breaks ground. The birding nesting season has begun and disruption of nesting is a CEQA violation. The nesting period extends from February 1st to August 31st. We will continue to monitor how Sand Hill Properties proceeds.
 
Public comment voicing opposition to this project should continue at all Daly City Council meetings (the second and fourth Monday nights at 7pm) and with the Coastal Commission:
 
  • Email the Council (by 4pm the day of the meeting): citycouncil@dalycity.org
  • Email the California Coastal Commission: julia.koppmannorton@coastal.ca.gov
  • Subject Line: Public Comment on Olympic Club Retreat Center

March 18, 2021: Earthquake Risks of Liquefaction/Shaking

For those interested in San Mateo’s latest projections of risk due to earthquake seismic activity in Daly City, see this link. The data is provided by ABAG (http://quake.abag.ca.gov/earthquakes/sanmateo/). 

“Very shallow ground water increases the susceptibility to liquefaction (soil is more likely to liquefy). Soils that lack resistance (susceptible soils) typically are saturated, loose and sandy.”

March 13, 2021: CDP Appeal Rejected by Coastal Commission

Despite our best efforts, the Coastal Commission approved the CDP for geotechnical testing of the land. We await San Hill Properties nesting mitigation next steps.

We are close to 10,000 signatures on our petition.

The San Francisco Examiner has posted this article about public resistance to the Olympic Retreat Center project.

On March 12th, the California Coastal Commission will address our appeal of the Coastal Development Permit for testing. 

While the CCC staff has recommended that our appeal poses “no substantial issue” and wants to give Daly City Council jurisdiction over the CDP, we believe that replacing loose dirt into 6 pits up to 250 feet deep and a trench 5 feet long, 5 feet wide and 5 feet deep will pose  a safety risk when this aerated dirt settles once it rains. These pits and the trench will undoubtedly reappear immediately after a storm blows through and someone (or their animal) will get hurt.

As an example of how rain can impact bulldozed, aerated sandy bluffs, you only need to recall the complete destruction of the Olympic Club’s 4-holes west of Skyline on their Ocean golf course in 1997.  “The 15th green has slipped, the cart path behind it has dropped about 12 feet into the sand dunes and the bunkers around it have fallen as many as 20 feet. The 16th tee was washed into an adjacent fairway.”

To submit comments to the Coastal Commission about the CDP for testing issue, please either respond in writing by March 5th, or participate via Zoom on 3-12:

We are agenda item 15a at the March 12th meeting. 

To submit comment in writing:

  • Email address: NorthCentralCoast@coastal.ca.gov
  • Subject Line: Public Comment on March 2021 Agenda Item Friday 15a – Appeal No. A-2-DYC-21-0001 (Sand Hill Property Company, Daly City)

You can also participate via Zoom but need to fill out a speaker request form here. Virtual meeting instructions are here.

If you wish to participate by phone, call (415) 904-5202 and the CCC staff will provide a call-in number. Be prepared to tell staff your name, which agenda item you wish to speak on and provide a telephone number where Commission staff may reach you.

The virtual Coastal Commission meeting on March 12th will be webcast, just as its regular meetings are, and can be viewed here.

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At 10:30, you’ll see a great shot of the cliff collapse right  next to the Thornton Vista.

We have…

Name: Gilia capitata ssp. chamissonis

Lifeform: annual herb
Blooming Period: Apr-Jul
Habitat:
• Coastal dunes
• Coastal scrub Rarity Status 
California Rare Plant Rank: 1B.1
Rare or endangered in California and elsewhere
.1: Seriously endangered in California

Jennifer K. sent in these photos showing increasing cracks in the cliffs near TBBP due to the earthquake Jan 18th and continued landslide activity. She notes:

“I noticed what appears to be an active landslide on the south side of the park where the mid-level bluff ends, and the trails go down to the beach.  Perhaps this is not new news, but I do find it fascinating to watch the ground actively changing in a matter of 10 days.  And also most certainly give pause to anyone considering developing in the adjacent area. I first noticed cracks and slippage on the 19th, after the earthquake from the evening of January 18th.  Today (Jan 29th), after the recent storms, I observed parts of the bluff had been washed away and the cracks are growing up the bluff.    I wanted to share a few photos.  The easiest change to notice is how the human walking trail disappears between 1/19 & 1/29.  I also drew a line where one of the significant cracks is growing.”

Jan 19th cracks developing:

January 29th: path eliminated

From the beach 1-19-2021:

From the beach 1-29-2021

Phillip S. also sent  these in:

For those of you who have asked about the current location of the San Andreas (and neighboring San Geronimo) earthquake faults vis-a-vis Daly City and the history of landslides in the area, please see the below maps showing these locations.

According to the the California Earthquake Authority:

“The communities of Daly City, Point Reyes Station and Bodega Bay lie squarely on the San Andreas. “

Enlarged view of map of San Andreas Fault location near Daly City, CA (darker orange line):

Here are the locations of landslides on the Daly City Coast:

January 7, 2021:  California Coastal Commission Appeal Filed
We have appealed the Coastal Development Permit for the geotechnical testing with the Coastal Commission. A copy of the appeal is here. During the period of the appeal, the testing will be postponed. The Coastal Commission anticipates they may be able to put us on their March meeting agenda.

Here are the Great Blue Herons who have taken up residence on the land in question:

We have over 317 supporters from Daly City.

Despite 77 emails from the public all in opposition to the project (with only one in support), the Daly City Council voted 3-to-2 in favor of granting the Coastal Development Permit for geotechnical testing of the land at Thornton Beach Bluff.  While this was a disappointment, this meeting showed that some members of the Council are listening to our objections and we need to keep up the pressure to stop this project from proceeding.

Daly City Council Meeting 12-14-2020 (our section  begins at 4:47:49 and public comments at 5:18:18)

We have over 5,142 names on our petition as of 12-7-2020.  Nice work everyone! *********************************************************************************************

Watch the video (agenda item starts at 31:00 minutes in to the broadcast)

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Here is what the developer intends to do on this land during testing:

Soil Borings. Six soil borings approximately 10 to 250 feet in depth and up to 10 inches in diameter are proposed. Two soil borings would be drilled to a depth of approximately 100 and 250 feet for an evaluation of bedding planes using a tele-viewer. A grouted-in-place vibrating wire piezometer would also be installed in one of the two borings to evaluate the depth conditions over time. The borings would allow ENGEO to gather data on bedding plane orientations within the Merced and Colma Formations as well as groundwater depth fluctuation for use in a slope stability analysis. The four other soil borings would be advanced to a depth between 10 and 50 feet to characterize the subsurface conditions for foundation design purposes.
All vertical soil borings would be permitted through San Mateo County and/or the City of Daly City and abandonment would be performed in accordance with permit requirements under regulatory oversight. The cuttings from the soil borings would be scattered onsite after completion of the exploratory work.
Test Pits. Five exploratory test pits approximately 5 feet wide, 5 feet long, and 5 feet deep are proposed for infiltration testing. Vegetation would be removed in the areas of proposed excavation, but no more vegetation would be removed than is necessary for the purpose of this investigation. The test pits would be backfilled with the test pit spoils.
Trench. The exploratory trench would be approximately 5 feet deep, 5 feet wide, and approximately 300 to 350 feet long extending inland from approximately 20 feet from the top of the bluff. At 20 feet from the edge of the bluff, ENGEO would be able to identify how cracking frequency, if any, changes near the bluff and inland toward the proposed development. The trench would allow ENGEO to attempt to identify tension cracks and other recent features
indicative of landslide formation. An ENGEO geologist would accompany the trenching subcontractor and map observed lithology, bedding plans, slide plans, and/or cracking, as appropriate. ENGEO does not anticipate that the shallow grading operations would pose a risk to the stability of the bluff at 20 feet from the edge. Vegetation would be removed in the areas of proposed excavation and there would be minimal disturbance of vegetation to mobilize the excavator to and from the proposed site of excavation. No more vegetation would be removed than is necessary for the purpose of this investigation.

On a side note, we have 3,162 signatures on our petition (so far). Keep em coming!

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We have just received word that Sand Hill Properties is finalizing their CEQA proposal and their revised plans to develop the 48,650 square foot Olympic Way Retreat which would be built on the vacant land to the south of Mar Vista Stables. A sign has just been posted on the property as a notice to begin geophysical evaluation of the land for construction. The evaluation includes boring holes and trenches right next to the Marvista Stables corral holding 20 horses and on the land providing access to the trail for public rides to the beach. Per the Coastal Commission 5-1-2020 letter: “We anticipate that a supplemental exploration would include at least two 300- foot-long exploratory trenches extending from the top of the bluff, and a number of continuous-core borings extending to depths of approximately 200 to 300 feet below ground surface. Selected deep-core borings would be logged with a downhole televiewer camera system to measure in-situ bedding and joint inclinations. In addition to these explorations, we anticipate that additional shallow borings will be required for the design of building foundations and improvements, based on a detailed development plan…”


Sand Hill Properties is continuing the CEQA process in support of their 49,650 square foot Olympic Way Retreat which would be built on the vacant land to the south of Mar Vista Stables. They also had with a recent meeting with the Airport’s Land Use Committee on 5-28 to get their approval of the Daly City Local Coastal Plan Amendment they need to get DCP approval of the project. Our latest information from Daly City Planning: This project requires reviews by the Airport Land Use Committee due to the required LCP Amendment and its location within an Airport Influence Area. The Committee recommended approval of the project the Airport’s C/CAG Board. The C/CAG Board will review the project at a future meeting date (date TBD). From a DCP perspective, the project is “incomplete” to date while Sand Hill addresses comments from various Daly City government departments, agencies, and the CEQA consultant. The Initial Study is also still being prepared. Public hearings for this project will not be determined until it’s deemed complete. This area is heavily used by hikers, dog walkers, fishermen, photographers, surfers, hang gliders, parasailers and many parking at the southern Thornton Beach Vista overlook and walking down the sole beach access trail to the Thornton State Beach in addition to being used by equestrians. Our next line of action will be marshaling the support of this community (many of which discovered Thornton Beach Bluff while Fort Funston was closed during the SIP due to COVID-19) in support of opposition to the Olympic Way Retreat Center project.


 

Sand Hill Properties has submitted a formal application to Daly City Planning for an “Olympic Way Retreat Center” to be built on the vacant lots to the south of Mar Vista Stables. This area is heavily used by hikers, dog walkers, fishermen, photographers, surfers as well as by trail riders and equestrians, many parking at the southern Thornton Beach Vista overlook and walking down the sole beach access trail to the Thornton State Beach. This area is  also used by the Fire Department, Park Rangers, Police Department to access the bluff and beach.

This application includes a request for rezoning and a CEQA/EIR review (requesting a mitigated negative declaration e.g. “no environmental impact”) and an amendment to the Daly City Local Coastal Plan. This project would require a new use permit and Coastal Development Permit. The CDP can be appealed to the Coastal Commission.

The two geological reports cite the seismic instability of the Thornton Beach Bluff land. (ENGEO, February 2019 and Cotton Shires, April 2019)

Daly City Planning has responded to the pre-application request from Sand Hill with this letter including:

Our next steps will be to meet with DCP and the Coastal Commission again to understand the process, next steps re public hearings and their perspectives. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, please sign our petition if you haven’t already.


July 11 2019: Did you catch this insightful article in the Los Angeles Times about the effects of climate change on the California Coast? A great read!


June 28 2019: It’s official! The landowner’s and developer’s deal to purchase the land at the Mar Vista Stables did not go through. We are hopeful that the landowners will ultimately take us up on our original proposal to buy the land so that we can protect it and our beloved barns forever.

 

May 8 2019: Earlier in April we met with Daly City Planning: As of our meeting date, our petition was at 1,356 signatures on Change.org. To date, Daly City Planning has not had a formal application from either developer for a CEQA Review or LCP Amendment (local coastal plan).  The 2 amendments the developers want to the Local Coastal Plan are alleviation of the 10% maximum building allowable on the land and the height restrictions (20 feet or one story, whichever is less) currently permitted.

Planning staff confirmed that a categorical exemption to CEQA (environmental) review is not possible for these parcels. They also noted that the parcels might require rezoning due to the parking requirements in existing codes vs what the developers have planned. Rezoning also requires Coastal Commission review.

For our plan, they said we would need to present any renovations to the Building Dept to see if demo permits and building permits were required. Ditto for a possible Coastal Development Permit (which also requires land owner consent of course) and would need to be reviewed with the Coastal Commission. Maintenance/refurbishment of existing structures is typically pursued without the need for building/demo permits.

We obtained the Torgon Group documents and are now reviewing these.

A public meeting for our supporters is to be scheduled most likely in June. Date to be announced shortly.


March 26 2019: Members of our Organizing Committee met with Coastal Commission staff on March 25th to review the requirements the developers would need to satisfy from a CC perspective to proceed with their projects (CEQA/EIR, amendment to LCP, CDP permit etc.). We also clarified the current extent of recreation taking place at Mar Vista Stables and provided data supporting this to the Commission. We further relayed our specific concerns with the proposed development proposals vis a vis the Coastal Act.

Staff confirmed that they would typically not review a project until the full application for a development is submitted, however, as in the Torgon Group’s case, this review could be requested earlier. The Coastal Commission has some concerns that Daly City is moving rapidly to try to simultaneously request to amend the LCP and issue a Coastal Development Permit. This cannot occur, however, without the CEQA recommendation and we will be staying on top of Daly City Planning regarding the status of that environmental review. Meanwhile, the developer, Harbinger, awaits their geological study.

Our petition to the Coastal Commission was also delivered to staff. We have 835 signatures in 3 weeks.


February 26 2019: The two developers, Harbinger Development and Sand Hill Properties, shared their proposals with Daly City Planning staff and the Coastal Commission who then reviewed the process for project review. Coastal staff recommended that the applicants conduct community outreach early in the process. They did not take a position on the proposals. They confirmed that the developers’ proposals both require an amendment to the current Daly City Local Coastal Plan (LCP). Here are the steps the developers will need to take if they decide to move forward:

The applicants will then need to conduct various technical studies such as a biological assessment, geotechnical study, and traffic and parking studies to determine the feasibility of the proposals on the subject sites and to guide site planning and design. In addition, Coastal staff conveyed that this will help them understand the constraints on the sites from a Local Coastal Plan (LCP) perspective. The CEQA environmental analysis on the Mar Vista/Palomar sites as well as Sand Hill Properties project on the vacant lot (for a conference center) will be processed concurrently.

  • The projects both include a building height and lot coverage in excess of the maximum (10%) permitted under the Daly City General Plan’s Coastal Element (i.e. Daly City LCP). Coastal staff stated a Local Coastal Program (LCP) Amendment would be required to increase the maximum height and lot coverage permitted on the properties.
  • Daly City staff indicated they would present both a proposed LCP Amendment and environmental document to the Daly City Planning Commission for a recommendation and subsequently to the City Council for approval of the LCP Amendment and certification of the CEQA environmental document at the same time.
  •  At this point in the process, a public hearing would be required. If necessary, we plan to challenge recommendations to proceed with the projects.
  •  If a zoning change is requested for either or both of the properties, this would require certification by the Coastal Commission.
  • If the LCP Amendment is certified by the Coastal Commission, the applicants would then apply for a Coastal Development Permit (CDP), Design Review Permit (DR), and Zone Change (if a Planned Development (PD) is proposed) through the City for each project.
  •  If a zoning change is requested for either or both of the properties, this would require certification by the Coastal Commission.
  • And if a Coastal Development Permit is issued by Daly City, this can be appealed to the Coastal Commission.

The Coastal Commission and Daly City Planning are aware of our concerns with these two projects and will continue to work with us.