Pacifica sells land to National Park Service

An unassuming 7.2-acre parcel — so unassuming the city didn’t realize it owned the land until earlier this decade — finally has a home with the National Park Service.

The parcel, at the mouth of the trailhead for the popular Sweeney Ridge hiking trail in west San Bruno, was officially bequeathed to the National Park Service this week with City Council approval. The agency plans on keeping the land as undeveloped open space in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

The $800,000 deal closes escrow today after years of turmoil, concern and near-concrete plans that never congealed.

City Attorney Cecilia Quick said the property first came to the city’s attention in 1999 or 2000, when the city learned it owned the land from a long-forgotten, decades-old agreement.

“We were all pretty surprised to learn it was ours,” Quick said.

Shortly after the city learned of its new charge, it declared the parcel as surplus property. The land continued to go untouched, though much development discussion and some controversy ensued.

Pacifica started taking proposals from developers in the early 2000s but open-space loving residents and the Pacifica Land Trust, which seeks to protect open space in and around the city, were up in arms.

The organization attempted to raise funds to buy the land and preserve it, according to the group’s Web site, but fell short. Pacifica Land Trust members were unavailable for comment.

PG&E, as part of its Jefferson-Martin transmission project, completed last August, inherited the land, planning to keep it open space as part of environmental mitigation for its own controversial power line project. But because PG&E is not in the business of landowning, Quick said, it put up the $800,000 in escrow and bequeathed the property again to the city of Pacifica.

NPS now has the right to keep the parcel as designated open space that cannot be developed, NPS spokeswoman Holly Bundock sai.

“We own 70,000 acres along the San Mateo County coast, San Francisco and Marin Headlands,” Bundock said. “We’re happy it’ll be another part of that system.”

tramroop@examiner.com

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