City purchasing land near base of mountain

The city is patiently buying up land around the base of San Bruno Mountain in an effort to preserve open space.

In the latest move to create a green belt between the county park on top of the mountain and the residential neighborhoods below, Brisbane is buying five plots of land from private owners. The plots, equaling about 6 acres, will be added to 38 others purchased by the city in the last 10 years for almost $2 million in the area called Brisbane Acres.

“A lot of the people think the mountain is already protected, but much hasn’t been yet,” said Fred Smith, assistant to the city manager who is in charge of buying the plots. “But now all you see is all there is going to be. I think that’s a remarkable success considering what was originally planned for the mountain.”

In the 1960s, developers were hoping to cut off the top of San Bruno Mountain and dump it in the Bay in order to build a city there. However, environmentalists were able to protect the mountain that is a home to several endangered butterfly and plant species, and by the late 1970s, the mountain top became a state and county park.

However, about 150 acres remained in private hands between the park and the city, leaving the possibility for development.

“We didn’t want anybody to build there because they’d be infringing on native habitat,” said Councilmember Cy Bologoff, who was on the City Council 10 years ago when the project was approved. “I’d like to think that we’re much more conscientious in preserving open space than others.”

The city has spent $1.9 million, including state and federal grants, to buy up acres from different owners, with the latest acquisition costing $480,000.

While the city is trying to buy the rest of 100 plots, San Bruno Mountain Watch, an environmental watchdog, is creating a public trust to buy other plots around the mountain, including sites in Daly City and Colma.

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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