SSF Council votes to include Sign Hill Park as part of PCA; 3 private parcels excluded
March 1, 2015
After two years of planning, lobbying, meetings and presentations, San Bruno Mountain Watch Conservancy (SBMWC) was pleased to recieve full support from the South San Francisco City Council on the proposed Priority Conservation Area, an ABAG (Association of Bay Area Government) program for public open spaces within South San Francisco. The areas approved by the City Council did not include the 3 privately held parcels on the north and east sides of Sign Hill which was a disappointment. It did include all roadways and connecter streets to large open spaces including San Bruno Mountain, Sign Hill Park, the San Francisco Bay Trail, and Orange Memorial Park.
Staff had requested all private owners agree in writing that their parcels be included in the PCA. However Del Schembari, the point person for SBMW, did not recieve replies to his inquiries. Areas that are included in the PCA will only have an impact if the owners choose to legally transfer land for open space. Should the owner pursue development or selling the property the PCA would have no effect whatsoever to which staff reports and Council readily agreed.
The eastern portion is currently for sale, again. It had been in foreclosure a few years ago and the 14 acre parcel was sold for $750K. The current asking price is $1.2M Friends of Sign Hill, along with SBMW, have actively sought ways to see this land preserved as open space.
The other two parcels which total approximately 40 acres is under the stewartship of the SYME Trust. Mr Syme attended the Council meeting and addressed the issue of not including his property at this time. His concern is to protect the assets he oversees and not to do anything that might devalue the property. In conversation after the meeting, Mr Syme did say there might be interest in exchanging the parcels he held on Sign Hill for other city owned properties. Indeed that would be a win/win for all and we will await future information as it becomes available.
San Bruno Mountain Watch is completing the PCA documents with Brisbane after a win in Daly City. The San Mateo County deadline is looming with all documents due to ABAG by May 2015.
The South San Francisco PCA was a team effort with South City resident Del Schembari taking the lead as a boardmember of San Bruno Mountain Watch, former SMBW Executive Director Ken McIntire, current Executive Director Kris Jensen, and SSF city staff, namely Park and Recreation Director Sharon Ranals and Chief Planner Suzie Kalkin. Kalkin is set to retire this month after a 30 year career with the City of South San Francisco and a friend to open spaces.
City Councilman Pradeep Gupta said he would like to see all of Sign Hill preserved as open space. 'This is a good first step' Gupta said. 'In time we hope to be able to add all of the properties' Councilmember Gupta is the South San Francisco representative to ABAG and is keenly aware of the need for a balance between development and open space.
Mark Addiego, South San Francisco Vice Mayor said he recently had the opportunity to once again see the beauty of the northern side from the Terra Bay neighborhood. "The light breeze blowing the grasses oh so gently can really bring out poetic musings' he said. Addiego has long been a supporter of open spaces and was one of the individuals that worked to save larger development from San Bruno Mountian, his conservation work dating back to the 1970's.