VIDEO. From the Half Moon Bay Parks and Recreation Committee meeting on Wednesday, August 25th, 2021 by Zoom.
Mike Williams. the Real Property Manager of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) presents.
UPDATE: September 2nd, 2021.
MROSD board approved purchase unanimously. Funding comes from Measure AA Funds.
The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) proposes to purchase an approximate undivided 59% interest in the 868-acre Johnston Ranch property, located in the vicinity of the City of Half Moon Bay. Following the purchase, the District proposes to complete a land division resulting in 644 acres of the Uplands portion of the property to be owned in fee by the District. The proposed transaction would preserve coastal open space, protect and sustain grazing and agricultural lands, protect the Arroyo Leon Creek watershed for salmonid habitat, and improve future public access to surrounding District lands. It would also create opportunities to provide compatible local and regional trail use in collaboration with the City of Half Moon Bay (HMB, City) and California State Parks.
In the 1990’s, Johnston Ranch was purchased from developers by the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST), an independent non-profit land trust, in response to wide-ranging concerns about the accelerating loss of agricultural lands and open space in San Mateo County. Since then, POST’s intent has been to transfer much of the property to a public agency that can provide permanent protection of the upland areas while allowing public access. POST envisions the remaining cultivated crop land to remain in agriculture and be repurchased by a local farmer, subject to a conservation easement.
In 2014, after extensive public engagement, the District’s Board of Directors adopted a Vision Plan to guide ongoing efforts in protecting scenic open spaces of regional value, preserve natural and cultural resources, support local agriculture, and provide additional opportunities for the public to experience nature. The Vision Plan identifies the preservation of open space in the uplands east of HMB, such as the Johnston Ranch, as one of the priority projects for achieving these goals.
Consistent with one of the key goals of the Vision Plan of providing public access to open spaces, the District approached HMB and entered into a partnership agreement with HMB and POST in 2019 to pursue local and regional trail connection opportunities. These opportunities include a trail connection from downtown HMB to the City’s Johnston House property and further out to Burleigh H. Murray Ranch State Park and Miramontes Ridge Open Space Preserve. Under the agreement, the District and City would collaborate on a future shared parking and trailhead at the Johnston House property and related trail planning in the uplands area south of Higgins Canyon Road. The agreement also states an intent to protect and support farming and ranching uses on the Johnston Ranch property. The agreement confirms the District’s commitment to support local agriculture and facilitates future public access to the Johnston Ranch uplands area.
Location (see Attachment 1)
The 868-acre Johnston Ranch property is located at the southern urban/rural boundary of HMB, east of Highway 1 and is accessible from Higgins Canyon Road. The property is in unincorporated San Mateo County, southwest of the District’s 1,715.63-acre Miramontes Ridge Open Space Preserve (Preserve).
The District’s Board of Directors will consider the purchase of the property interest, 2 including price and terms, in the fall of 2021. Purchase of the property supports the District’s overall coastal mission and Vision Plan Portfolio #1 Miramontes Ridge: Gateway to the Coast Public Access, Stream Restoration and Agricultural Enhancements. The purchase is eligible for Measure AA funding.
Full Johnston Ranch Uplands Property Fact SheetFact Sheet Johnston Ranch Uplands Property