San Bruno Mountain Watch

P.O. Box AO, Brisbane, CA 94005.
Tel: 415.467.6631

From an article by Ken McIntire (of SBMW) in the Green City Calendar

San Bruno Mountain is a naturalistís dream -- preserving the last remnant of pure Franciscan ecosystem found on the Peninsula. With over 3,300 acres south of San Francisco, San Bruno Mountain is the largest city-locked urban open space in the U.S. Its marine climate provides the damp conditions crucial to local native plants. The California native Plat Society lists 16 plants and animals on the mountain as rare and endangered, 4 of which are federally listed.

San Bruno Mountain Watch is a small but active environmental group whose roots to the mountain date back 25 years. The group focuses on land-use issues, endangered species protection, leads educational hikes and directs hands-on restoration projects.

Only half the area within the State Park is protected. 1,000 acres of pristine native grassland are currently threatened by development, including an ancient Ohlone shell Mound -- a site where indigenous people lived for centuries and possibly buried their dead. The SBMW is committed to preserving and restoring this precious natural resource and is working to save this site from destruction.

As a result, SBMW has recently been involved in two important lawsuits. In 1995 SBMW (then Bay Area Land Watch) filed a lawsuit challenging San Mateo Countyís approval of Watson Communication Companyís permit to build on the Mountain, and to force a review of the Environmental Impact Report related to this proposed development.

In November 1995 Superior Court Judge Haan ruled against SBMW in a one-sentence decision. SBMW lawyers strongly advised an appeal to this shocking ruling. SBMW felt the judge had little experience with environmental issues and was predisposed to side with landowners and developers. After an extremely generous offer on the part of its lawyers, SBMW decided to proceed with an appeal. Presently all arguments and counter-arguments have been submitted to the San Francisco-based Court of Appeal of the State of California. The SBMW is hoping the courtís good environmental track record and experience with the California Environmental Quality Act will effect a desirable result.

SBMW has also joined with the Spirit of the Sage Council and other groups to protest an amendment to the Endangered Species Act which prevents new environmental protections additions to Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs), even when new information warrants a change.

The amendment allows developers to build on private areas containing endangered species -- providing development is accompanied by an HCP. HCPs stipulate restrictions such as habitat restoration and preservation of a part of the original land.

The first national HCP was implemented on the San Bruno Mountain, making it a test-case for the nation. SBMW feels HCPs have become a popular tool for destroying and developing previously protected rare and endangered habitats. SBMW will continue work to minimize or stop these destructive plans whenever possible.