Coastside Communities Information

Often when a property is offered for sale, a seller does not realize a change has taken place that could impact their property and/or may not have investigated the history prior to their purchase of the property. In an offer to purchase real estate, you can request the sellers sign a document entitled "Permission to Examine Records." This allows you as a purchaser to examine, photograph, copy, or duplicate any or all of the documents, permits, applications, inspections, plans, reports, appeals, or any other material contained in the files of the Planning and Building Department, Department of Environmental Health, County Department of Public works, the office of the San Mateo County Fire Marshall or San Mateo County Assessor's Office.

Each of these departments, along with, but not limited to, the California Coastal Commission, the incorporated city of Half Moon Bay, and utilities such as water and/or sewer services specific to an individual property, may have requirements that impact and/or add substantial costs to real estate you purchase.

I recommend you investigate these areas in a timely manner as older records can take two or three weeks to obtain from microfiche storage of files. The charges involved for obtaining this information are usually minor compared to the costs of not being fully informed. There are now companies that can provide this service commercially.

Real estate agents are not experts and are not qualified to interpret documents or reports from county, city or utility company records. If, after obtaining and reviewing whatever records may be on file with these entities, you have additional questions, find you do not understand them, or have any other reservations after discussing a specific record with the entity that provided it, we strongly recommend that you consult an expert in that field to get a more thorough understanding of the property and its records.

Suggested Areas to Research or Investigate:

1. Located on a Private, Unpaved, Recently Paved Road or Highway

On unpaved roads, costs could arise from an assessment from the county for paving county maintained roads. Absence of a road agreement on a private road falls under Civil Code 845 which provides that "the cost shall be shared proportionately to the use made of the easement by each owner..." A newly paved roadway may not yet have received an assessment. When the county paves a road they issue estimates of the costs to each homeowner and the options for payment. The billing or assessment sometimes does not go into affect for up to two or three years after the road was paved, and may be a surprise to the then-property owner.

2. Wells

Many coastal properties have wells. A well is not a static entity. I recommend that a prospective purchaser test for water quality and quantity at the time of purchase. Even with current testing, there is never a guarantee that a well will continue to function with the same quality and quantity of water.

3. Located Near a Creek

Investigate water use, well drilling and/or new and additional construction with the State of California, for adjudication of coastal creek waters. Properties can lose their rights to derive any water from water on or adjacent to their property through the adjudication process.

4. Geographic and Environmental Hazards Reports are Available

Reports on whether the property falls into earthquake fault, land slide, flood, tsunami and/or brush fire zones, as well as areas near gas stations or buried and/or leaking underground fuel tanks are available for approximately one hundred dollars from a couple of commercial firms.

5. Special Assessment Districts

There are many special assessment districts on the Coastside. A copy of the property tax bill will indicate existing assessments for street, sewer, water or other special assessments. These can increase your annual tax bills by significant amounts. Also check with the specific agencies for proposed assessments.

6. Airport

There is an uncontrolled airport located near Moss Beach, El Granada and Princeton-by-the-Sea on the Coastside. There is no flight tower directing or controlling flight patterns. Over-flights by small planes may occur anywhere on the Coastside outside of the flight patterns. On property between Miramar in Half Moon Bay through Montara, review the Half Moon Bay Airport Zoning Map, the San Mateo County Airport Noise Projection Map, and the Half Moon Bay Airport flight pattern booklet.

7. Coastside Noises and Spraying

Much coastal property is located near California Interstate Highway 1, Half Moon Bay Airport, Pillar Point Harbor, and agricultural fields. Noise from highway traffic, aircraft, fog horns and farm equipment may be heard from many properties. Spraying of agricultural fields may occur seasonally.

8. Located in the Coastal Zone

For building new construction, or adding to or modifying an existing property in the coastal zone, investigate through the California Coastal Commission as well as all entities listed in paragraph three of this article.

9. Located Near one of the Proposed Highway 1 Bypass Routes The bypass routes have been in litigation for over twenty years. There are proposed solutions that route Highway One around Devil's Slide or a currently "approved" tunnel that could impact property in Montara and Moss beach.

10. Postal Delivery

Many areas of the Coastside do not have US Mail delivery to the property. Many locations necessitate the rental of a post office box or use of General Delivery. I recommend that in any area of uncertainty or concern to you, you investigate to your satisfaction and not rely on any verbal representations from anyone, including agents or sellers.