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Proposed Hog Wire Fence Poses Problems for Neighborhood

Ailanto/Pacific Ridge residents say the fence would be unsafe and impacts private property.

It may seem like a simple fence, but residents in the Ailanto/Pacific Ridge development are taking issue with a proposed hog wire fence located along Silver and Highland avenues, known as the Pacific Ridge/Ailanto Property.

The problem with it, says Teresa McWhirt, who lives on Silver Avenue bordering the fenced-in property, is that the fence blocks access for walking to the high school.

“The families from Grandview Terrace, Highland Park and Terrace use this access path and will be forced to either drive to school or walk along Highway 1 which is very dangerous,” said McWhirt, who wrote a letter to Interim Planning Director Pat Webb, requesting that this item be brought before the commission at a later time to give the community time to pursue appropriate options.

McWhirt heard about the Coastal Development Permit (CDP) to erect a fence along the property line of the Ailanto /Pacific Ridge development from a neighbor.

“It is our understanding that anyone within 300 feet should be notified,” said McWhirt. "The fence was not in the original vetting of the CDP for the subdivision. We do not have a problem with the subdivision, but are very concerned about this fence and the impact on our neighborhood/community.”

Monica Rosoff, who lives adjacent to the property and the path that goes from the Highland Park neighborhood to the high school, says she is also concerned about how the fence is impacting their neighborhood, not only because it blocks access to the high school, but also because it blocks access to their own fence.

She also wrote a letter to the Planning Director about liability issues with the fence. Her husband Marc Rosoff is planning to attend today’s Planning Director meeting at 4:30 p.m. at the Ted Adcock Senior/Community Center to voice his opinion on the matter.

The Rosoff's are requesting that the construction of the fence be brought before the commission at a later time as well, and that the proposal to erect this fence be crafted in such a way that access to the high school is preserved.

Here’s an excerpt from Rosoff’s letter to Webb:

Safety Concerns

We believe that closing off access to the High School from the Highland Park neighborhood is a very significant safety concern. Cutting off access to this section of the high school leaves the baseball field area of the school significantly more isolated from the high school access points.  As long time residents of this neighborhood, and neighbors of the high school, we have had to call the police department many times over the past years to stop vandalism of the high school property (in particular the new baseball facilities) and once even to put out a fire in the high school baseball bleachers.  Access to the north end of the high school should be preserved for police, fire fighters and medical personnel.

The high school is the designated Coastside evacuation center.  Should there be a true emergency in town, it makes no sense to prevent our neighborhood access to the high school.  The fence can and should be erected such that access to the high school is preserved.

Goals 2 and 3 of the City of Half Moon Bay’s Circulation Element of the General Plan are to maintain safe and convenient vehicle access and to promote alternative methods of transportation.  We respectfully request that the City not approve the construction of a fence in such a manner that it would guarantee an increase in vehicle congestion at the high school, remove the only safe path for pedestrians to access a crosswalk that connects us to the coastal trail system and downtown, and force residents of the Highland Park neighborhood to use their cars when they previously could have walked or used other alternative modes of transportation.

With regards to liability concerns, we believe that the proposed fence will generate liability issues for the residents of Highland Ave., as there will be high schoolers and other individuals who will jump our fences to create a shortcut to exit the high school and avoid walking along Highway 1, where they previously would have used the path that is located on the border of the Ailanto property (and ours).

Gang graffiti has been scrawled on our fence repeatedly over the past 5 years. We remove it when it appears, and keep the police apprised of new graffiti. This is very important to monitor gang activity in our community and specifically at the high school. We do not think that it is advisable to block off access to the high school and property fences in such a way that the homeowners and police have no easy way to monitor the appearance of graffiti and deter the perpetrators. Will the high school or the owners of Ailanto properties be responsible for policing their students and for repairing our fence when it is damaged?

Impact on our Property

We require access to our fence on both sides for maintenance purposes, including the removal of gang graffiti. The proposed fence would cut off access to entire outside perimeter of our fence.

How is the proposed fence going to be installed such that the path to the high school is closed off? We have not given consent to have any structure connected to our fence, nor has anyone approached us in this regard. We are concerned that installation of the fence as proposed will destabilize our fence.  

 

What do you think of this situation? Are you planning to attend the Planning Director meeting today at 4:30 p.m.? Share your thoughts here.

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Monica Rosoff September 27, 2012 at 04:54 AM
I agree that the biggest concern should be for the safety of kids who previously had the option of accessing the school via the north walkway, but who now have no other option but to walk along highway 1 to get to their school. Keep in mind that there is no access to a crosswalk or sidewalk to allow pedestrians to get from the Highland Park neighborhood to the coastal trail or the downtown area if the path through the high school is closed. How many pedestrians have we lost on Hwy1? Why should we put kids in harm's way?
Dee September 27, 2012 at 02:44 PM
I think Rosoff and McWhirt make a sound case when it comes to the safety of the kids getting to their school. Although private property, this subdivision needs to be looked at more closely by local government and the developer. In practice, it's a lot like horsetrading that goes on between the planning dept. and the developer over the design and improvements to permit things like now a new fence. However planning should take into consideration the Subdivision Map Act which specifically permits local governments to require that land be set aside for streets, bike paths as well as easements that provide public access to open space. The Subdivision Map Act is a powerful tool for obtaining extractions from developers via conditions of approval. The law gives local governments power to require developers to provide land, public facilities and/or in lieu fees needed for those subdivisions to operate smoothly. My only hope is that planning director Webb takes this neighborhood's best interest seriously on this fence issue and will use the Subdivision Map Act (and perhaps Quimby Fee, requiring developers to dedicate parkland or pay an equivalent fee so governmental jurisdiction can buy parkland). We can only hope that the developer will also take into consideration the history of this path that kids have been using for years to get to school from this neighborhood. It may be his land but not so much when the Subdivision Map Act comes into play.
Brian Ginna September 27, 2012 at 02:48 PM
The development is already approved, in the books. There are no "extractions" that are going to be forthcoming from anyone. I guess that gets to the heart of the lack of understanding here (although throwing around Acts and Fees seems fun, doesn't it?). If they ever start building (and they will not until Carnoustie development shows some actual sales and starts), the likelihood of any accommodation is nil. Webb (an interim contractor) will have absolutely nothing to do with this situation.
Dee September 28, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Looks like planning director approved the permits for the fence. I hope residents appeal the project to the city planning commission. I understand Ailanto's concern with the trespassing on the property and the company's liability especially with drug use and people camping up there but there has got to be a solution with the traffic issue and kids getting to school. This subdivision has been a nuisance since Ailanto first bought the property ... between his demands and the nearby residents with land use lawsuits and of course the famous light at Terrace. Seems that the no-growth agenda of many is just making our lives even more complicated. It's getting harder and harder to live here. When will HMB grow up and work together to support the growth that is already happening? ... instead of trying to stop it, embrace it. Widen the roads a little bit, put in lights, let homes be built and put in paths so kids can walk to school...this doesn't mean that more crowds will come. The crowds are already here. We need the infrastructure to support this.
Kevin September 28, 2012 at 09:20 PM
The neighborhood is slowly being fenced in. I feel like a farm animal. What ever happened to easements? Or cross walks or sidewalks? The neighborhood is such an afterthought from a planning standpoint...it is very aggravating.

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