Toto Ranch

Through its Coastal Protection Area Service Plan the District is committed to protecting our coastal watershed and agricultural lands and preserving the rural character of the region.  As of January 2016, the District has purchased or protected 10,409 acres of open space and agricultural land in the coastal area, expanded its grazing program, added public access areas, and has service agreements for schools and fire protection. In 2014, voters passed Measure AA, a general obligation bond to further help preserve open space, provide appropriate public access, and assist with environmental maintenance projects.

Midpen's Coastside Protection Program was implemented in September 2004 when the Midpen boundary was extended to the Pacific Ocean from the City of Pacifica to the Santa Cruz County line. The District spent more than 7 years developing the Program in collaboration with coastside residents and agricultural community.

The San Mateo coast, with its forested rural backdrop and rolling ranch and agricultural land, has a history dating back to the Ohlone Indians, the region's first settlers. Today the coastside is threatened by inappropriate development and sprawl. In response to overwhelming concern by San Mateo County residents, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District partnered with coastsiders to share the important responsibility of protecting coastal land. The program is projected to protect approximately 11,800 acres of the coastside as open space and agricultural land over 15 years beginning in 2004.

SERVICE PLAN FOR THE SAN MATEO COASTAL ANNEXATION AREA In 2004, as part of the San Mateo Coastal Annexation, the District worked with multiple stakeholders to develop the Coastside Protection Area Service Plan (Service Plan).  Through the Service Plan the District is committed to:
  • Protect watershed integrity and water quality
  • Protect sensitive resources such as habitats for special-status species
  • Provide key links to existing District and other public open space and park lands
  • Provide visitor-serving facilities (unpaved trails and small, gravel-surfaced parking lots) for low-intensity recreation (hiking, bicycling and horseback riding)
  • Support development of an integrated regional trail system coordinated with the San Mateo County Trails Plan
  • Provide opportunities for scientific research, resource conservation demonstration projects, outdoor environmental education programs, and interpretive programs, and
  • Preserve existing and potential agricultural operations in order to keep the maximum amount of prime agricultural land and other lands suitable for agriculture in agricultural production
MISSION STATEMENTWhile implementing the District’s overall mission of open space land preservation, resource management, and low-intensity recreation, the District’s mission for the Coastal Annexation Area as defined by the Service Plan is:

To acquire and preserve in perpetuity open space land and agricultural land of regional significance, protect and restore the natural environment, preserve rural character, encourage viable agricultural use of land resources, and provide opportunities for ecologically sensitive public enjoyment and education.

COASTAL LAND PURCHASE PROGRAM Over the last 10 years, the District has purchased or protected 10,409 acres of open space and agricultural land in the coastal area.  In 2015, the District acquired 703.84 acres, including the District’s first two conservation easements in the Coastside Protection Area. While outside the Coastal Protection Area boundaries, two additional purchases at La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve in 2015, totaling 43.21 acres, provided additional protection in the headwaters of La Honda and Harrington Creeks, both of which are in the San Gregorio Creek Watershed. 
CONSERVATION GRAZING PROGRAM The District now owns and manages approximately 10,045 acres of grazing lands with 8,011 acres located in the coastal area, and 2,034 acres in the District’s original boundaries on the former McDonald Ranch at La Honda Creek OSP and the Big Dipper/Silva Ranch at Skyline Ridge OSP.  In addition, the District has purchased 33 acres of agricultural land including 31 acres of row crops and 2 acres of tree farm. Following the development of the Grazing Management Policy, the District began livestock grazing as a resource management tool.  The District now administers 10 grazing leases and 3 agricultural leases in the coastal area to ensure that these lands remain in sustainable agricultural production consistent with Board policy and the Coastside Protection Area Service Plan.
PUBLIC ACCESS PROJECTS
  • Mindego Gateway public parking and access was completed in 2014, and the Ancient Oaks Trail connection to Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve was completed in 2015.  The completion of the Mindego Hill Trail to the top of Mindego Hill is expected to open in 2016 once cattle grazing is reintroduced to the area.
  • The La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve Master Plan retains the existing 3.7 miles of hiking and equestrian trails currently open to the public, and opens over 25 miles of new trail, including 9.3 miles of multi-use trail open to bicycles, and 16.7 miles of hiking and equestrian only trail. Trails in the northern portion of the Preserve, which is grazed, would also be opened to dogs on leash to facilitate effective integration of the two uses. Additionally, the Master Plan also includes two interim parking areas to expedite public access, three new permanent parking lots over the life of the Master Plan, easy access trails, a new segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, interpretive signage, horse troughs, and picnic areas.  Work on opening the La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve to the public is scheduled to begin in Fiscal Year 2017-18.  
SAN MATEO FARM BUREAU In January 2004, the Board of Directors approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Farm Bureau which requires the District to consult with Farm Bureau on new land purchases and planning for public access projects to avoid adverse impacts to adjacent agricultural operations. Real Property regularly consults on new land purchases and grazing & agricultural leases with Natural Resources staff on projects in the Coastside Protection Area. 
LA HONDA - PESCADERO SCHOOL DISTRICT In March of 2004, the District entered into an Agreement with La Honda – Pescadero Unified School District to meet the following goals:
1.    Tax Compensation Fee – For lands purchased in the School District boundaries and within the Coastside Protection Area, the District will pay a service fee to offset tax revenues received by the School District.  These fees will increase annually by 2%.
2.    Environmental Education – The District will work with the School District to support environmental education such as “ field trips to local fish habitat or a study of erosion control methods”.
The term of this Agreement is 20 years and in year 19 (2023), the District and School District are to begin negotiations on a Successor Agreement.
SAN MATEO COUNTY FIRE SERVICE In March of 2004, the District entered into an Agreement with San Mateo County regarding Fire Services to meet the following goals:
1.    Fire Service Fee – For lands purchased in the County’s District boundaries not covered by Cal Fire’s State Responsibility Area, and within the Coastside Protection Area, the District will pay a service fee to offset tax revenues received by the County.  These fees will increase annually by 2%.
2.    County will provide Fire and Medical Services on District lands within the Coastside Protection Area.
3.    District and County have entered into a Mutual Aid Agreement.
4.    District will consult with County on its Fuel Management Program.
5.    District will consult with County on installation of additional water resources for fire suppression.
The term of this Agreement is 15 years and after 10 years (2014), the District and County are to begin negotiations on a Successor Agreement.
GOOD NEIGHBOR POLICY The purpose of the Good Neighbor Policy is to establish guidelines and principles for ensuring good relationships between the District and its neighbors. In both the day-to-day conduct and in the long-range planning for public open space preserves, the District will make every effort to cooperate with neighbors, to take into account their perspectives, address their concerns, and engage and involve them in the process of making decisions regarding the public preserves.

For more information about the services provided by the District under the Coastside Protection Program, please download the Service Plan.