Connect the Coastside

Read answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Connect the Coastside.

What does the plan do?

The plan includes a wide range of improvements, which address the present and future mobility needs of Coastside communities. The plan broadly seeks to:

  • Improve existing traffic conditions and public safety
  • Expand transportation choices for residents and visitors
  • Encourage environmentally friendly options, such as walking, biking and public transit
  • Respect the character of Midcoast communities and protect coastal resources
  • Maintain and improve access to coastal resources for both residents and visitors
Why is the plan needed?

The County’s Local Coastal Program (LCP) requires the development of a comprehensive transportation management plan to address the meet future transportation needs of Coastside communities. As new development occurs, transportation improvements will be planned and constructed to address traffic impacts. New land use policies will also help reduce traffic, protect natural resources and preserve coastal community character by limiting development.

Which communities are included in the plan?

The plan focuses on the areas surrounding Highway 1 and State Route 92 on the San Mateo County Coastside. The plan’s study area includes the unincorporated communities of Montara, Moss Beach, El Granada, Princeton and Miramar.

How is the plan funded? How will future projects be paid for?

The plan provides cost estimates for recommended improvements and identifies potential sources of funding. Improvements may be paid for using a mix of County funding, regional or statewide grants and new land-use policies that collect fees from development.

How does Connect the Coastside promote roadway safety?

The Connect the Coastside plan proposes many infrastructure projects that will make walking, biking, and driving on the Midcoast safer for both residents and visitors. The plan addresses safety by analyzing existing conditions and developing improvement strategies. The proposed projects are evaluated and prioritized using six measures, one of which is safety and circulation. For more information on the six prioritization measures see Chapter 6 Plan Implementation in the public draft of the Connect the Coastside plan. Many of the proposed projects score highly on the safety and circulation measure, such as projects that would add:

  • Turn lanes
  • Stop signs
  • Standardized paved shoulders
  • Roundabouts
  • Bike lanes
  • Sidewalks
  • Curb extensions
  • Crosswalks
How does Connect the Coastside promote safety in the event of an emergency?

The projects recommended in Connect the Coastside have been selected to improve safety and mobility for residents, businesses and visitors. In addition to the projects that promote everyday roadway safety, Connect the Coastside also evaluates traffic conditions during times of peak traffic and suggests improvements to ease roadway congestion. In the event of an emergency, keeping traffic moving efficiently will be important for both emergency responders and those leaving during a possible evacuation. Many of the projects in Connect the Coastside will improve the flow of traffic, such as projects for additional turn lanes and passing/climbing lanes.

Connect the Coastside also suggests improvements to bicycle, pedestrian, and transit infrastructure that could aid in the evacuation of visitors and residents in certain emergency situations. For example, in the event of a Tsunami Warning, the County of San Mateo Office of Emergency Services suggests walking to high ground or inland immediately. Improvements to trails and walking paths will make it easier and safer for people to travel by foot.

How does the County plan for emergency situations and evacuations?

Mobility on the Coastside is of particular concern in emergency situations and if an evacuation is required. The following is an overview of different County departments and special projects related to emergency response:

  • In the event of a disaster, the Office of Emergency Services (OES) coordinates countywide response and protection services. One of the missions of the Office of Emergency Services is to maintain and improve the Countywide Emergency Operations Plan. This plan establishes policies and procedures and assigns responsibilities to keep residents safe during an emergency situation.
  • During an emergency or disaster, law enforcement is responsible for evacuation and the movement of the public away from a hazard area. Representatives from law enforcement and public safety agencies were part of the Connect the Coastside Technical Advisory Committee that reviewed and helped refine the plan proposals.
  • In the event of an emergency, public safety agencies such as police and fire will be able to provide emergency information directly to people who have registered for the San Mateo County (SMC) Alert service. These alerts may include life safety, fire, weather, accidents involving utilities or roadways or disaster notifications. For example, the SMC Alert service would be used to notify Coastside employees and citizens of available evacuation routes during an emergency.
  • In March of 2019, Supervisor Don Horsley allocated $75,000 of discretionary Measure K funds to launch the development of a countywide standardized emergency evacuation zone project. The goals of the project are to reduce the amount of time it takes to notify the public, create a common operating evacuation platform for all jurisdictions, information sharing, and help people to safely & efficiently evacuate in case of an emergency. Since the project began, the CAL FIRE San Mateo Division has worked with every fire and law enforcement agency in San Mateo County to identify over 300 evacuation zones. The project includes a public webpage that will show a map of each evacuation zone and a software application that will help first responders call for evacuations using the standard zones. This will greatly reduce the time from when an evacuation is called to when the public is notified. Additionally, the application integrates with Waze and Google Maps, so as soon as a zone is closed people will be directed accordingly. The project team anticipates launching this evacuation management platform in summer 2020.
  • The County of San Mateo will be implementing updates of the Local Hazard Mitigation Plan and the Safety Element of the General Plan in the spring of 2020. The County will be working with emergency service providers such as CalFire, the Office of Emergency Services, and the new Flood and Sea Level Rise Resiliency District. These efforts will further evaluate hazard risks and identify safety measures on the Midcoast.
How does Connect the Coastside help reduce the number of drivers on the road?

Connect the Coastside recommends projects that will increase transportation options and policies that will reduce development. More transportation options and less development on the Midcoast can help to reduce the number of drivers on the road.

The way land is used has a significant impact on travel patterns. Midcoast communities are mostly low density, suburban and residential. Small commercial areas can be found along Highway 1 in each of the Midcoast communities. This type of community layout encourages automobile trips. A range of other factors also encourage driving on the Midcoast, including:

  • The configuration of local streets
  • Limited access provided by Highway 1 and State Route 92
  • Distance from major job centers and local services
  • A lack of multi-modal transportation choices

The transportation improvements envisioned in Connect the Coastside will expand mobility choices, while land use strategies to limit development can serve to reduce future traffic demand.

The lot merger program could reduce the number of homes built in existing single-family neighborhoods and result in some larger lots with more on-site, private open space. The lot retirement program will limit the development potential of rural lands on the Midcoast, preserving additional open space and natural resources.

A transportation impact mitigation fee program would collect fees for new residential and non‐residential development. Fees would be collected on a per‐housing‐unit basis for residential and per‐square‐foot basis for non‐residential development. These fees would help pay for projects included in Connect the Coastside and serve as a potential check on development.

Many of the recommended projects will increase transportation choices for residents and visitors. Bike lanes, sidewalks, trail improvements and safe crossings will make it easier and safer for people to walk or take their bike. Investments in bus stops and expanded weekend bus service will help reduce traffic and encourage people to take public transit. Improving safe routes to schools will provide parents and students alternatives to driving to school, such as walking and bicycling.

What is the process to get a project funded, designed, permitted and built?

Each of the transportation-related projects proposed in Connect the Coastside will require separate funding, design, permitting, environmental review, and construction. Local governments often seek grant funding to prepare project designs. Project designs are necessary before permitting and environmental review can start.

Each project will require a Coastal Development Permit issued by the County of San Mateo, except for a few projects that are outside the Coastal Zone. Although the overall Connect the Coastside plan is evaluated based on the California Environmental Quality Act, individual projects will need specific assessments of environmental impact as part of the Coastal Development Permit process.

Once a project is funded, designed, and permitted, it can be published for bids. This competitive public process allows construction companies to compete for a project by responding to a request for proposals (RFP) issued by the County. Once a contract is awarded, the contractor can begin to build the project.

Projects identified through Connect the Coastside will take place in phases, as funding becomes available. While some projects or parts of projects could be implemented fairly quickly, some high priority projects will likely take a long time to get through all of the steps required. Implementing transportation projects can be challenging, due to the variety of funding sources, environmental concerns and the permitting process.

It is anticipated that many projects identified in this plan will be implemented independently as stand-alone projects. However, some projects or parts of projects will instead be incorporated into other transportation or non-transportation projects on the Midcoast. This may include projects under the Caltrans State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP), San Mateo County maintenance, operational, and preservation projects, land use developments, or major infrastructure modifications.

Who will provide funding for improvements identified in Connect the Coastside?

The Connect the Coastside plan creates a vision for transportation on the Midcoast and clarifies the Board of Supervisor’s priorities for investments in transportation infrastructure. Funding for different Connect the Coastside projects could potentially come from a mix of a number of local, regional, state, or federal programs. Agencies that could potentially fund various recommended improvements through grants and other programs include:

  • Federal:
    • US Department of Transportation (US DOT)
    • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
    • Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
  • State:
    • California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)
    • California Transportation Commission (CTC)
    • Office of Traffic Safety (OTS)
    • California State Parks
    • California Strategic Growth Council
    • California Natural Resources Agency
    • California Air Resources Board
    • State Coastal Conservancy
  • Regional:
    • Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)
    • Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD)
    • City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County (C/CAG)
    • The San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans)
    • San Mateo County Transportation Authority (TA)
  • Local:
    • County of San Mateo

For a list of potential grant programs and funds, please see Table 23 in the public draft of the Connect the Coastside plan.

Another possible funding source is a “transportation impact mitigation fee.” This kind of fee could be charged to new development projects on the Midcoast to help pay for transportation projects needed to address the impacts of growth. For more information on this fee, see Chapter 4 Transportation and Land-Use Strategies in the public draft of the Connect the Coastside plan.

How does Connect the Coastside relate to the Coastal Act and Local Coastal Program (LCP)?

The California Coastal Act and the San Mateo County Local Coastal Program (LCP) guided the creation of Connect the Coastside and will continue to guide the implementation of the plan after adoption.

Adopted in 1976, the California Coastal Act is a state law that directs the planning and management of the California coastal zone, the statewide stretch of coastline along the Pacific Ocean. The Coastal Act establishes a number of foundational goals that aim to protect the coastal environment and ensure maximum public access to the coast. The California Coastal Commission and local governments are responsible for carrying out the Coastal Act and for coastal management. The implementation of Coastal Act policies is accomplished primarily through the preparation of Local Coastal Programs (LCPs), which are required to be completed by all cities and counties located in the coastal zone.

San Mateo County’s Local Coastal Program (LCP) is used to guide development in the coastal zone while protecting coastal resources. Any and all development projects in the Coastal Zone require either a Coastal Development Permit or an exemption from Coastal Development Permit requirements. For a permit to be issued, the development must comply with the policies of the Local Coastal Program (LCP). The proposals in Connect the Coastside were evaluated and found to be consistent with the broad policies of the Local Coastal Program.

In 2011, the Board of Supervisors adopted significant amendments to San Mateo County’s Local Coastal Program regarding the Midcoast. One of these amendments was Policy 2.53, which called for the preparation of a “Comprehensive Transportation Management Plan” to address the cumulative impacts of Midcoast development. Connect the Coastside is designed to fulfill the requirements of Policy 2.53 and inform the County’s implementation of several other components of the Local Coastal Program, including the public works and new development components. Some of the standards proposed in Connect the Coastside, such as the Delay Index, need to be incorporated into the Local Coastal Program through an amendment.

How is Connect the Coastside related to other planning efforts?

Connect the Coastside was shaped by previous planning efforts and will help inform future planning on the Coastside. Connect the Coastside was guided by existing community plans and regulations, including:

The goals and policies of these documents helped shape the Connect the Coastside public participation process, the contents of the plan, and the evaluation of possible projects.

The list of potential infrastructure improvements recommended in Connect the Coastside was compiled from a variety of sources, including several past and concurrent planning efforts. These planning efforts include the Highway 1 Safety and Mobility Study, the Highway 1 Congestion & Safety Improvement Project, the Coastside Access Study, and the SamTrans Coastside Plan. Additionally, some of the proposed infrastructure improvement recommendations were developed during the Connect the Coastside process.

There are several concurrent planning efforts that will also influence transportation on the Midcoast. These projects include Reimagine SamTrans, the San Mateo County Active Transportation PlanPlan Princeton, and the Half Moon Bay Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. The Connect the Coastside project team has been working to make sure the various plans are appropriately coordinated and complement each other.

Once Connect the Coastside is adopted by the Board of Supervisors, the recommended projects will need to be incorporated into local, regional, and state transportation plans to secure funding. These plans include:

Following adoption of Connect the Coastside by the Board of Supervisors, a priority action for County staff will be to integrate Connect the Coastside projects in local and state transportation plans.

How will the County collaborate with other agencies?

Putting the Connect the Coastside plan into action will require the County to work with a number of other agencies. These agencies may play a wide range of roles, including:

  • Owning the land where Connect the Coastside recommends projects
  • Overseeing the construction of recommended projects
  • Playing a part in permitting improvements
  • Providing recommended transportation services
  • Providing money to help pay for projects
  • Providing support or guidance to ensure plan goals are met

Likely collaborators include Caltrans, SamTrans, the California Coastal Commission, San Mateo County Parks, the California State Parks Department, the City of Half Moon Bay, San Mateo County Transportation Authority, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and the City County Association of Governments.

Below is a list of those agencies with an explanation of how they can support the Connect the Coastside implementation.


Caltrans is the State’s transportation agency and the manager of Highway 1. Many of the projects contained in Connect the Coastside rely on active partnerships between the County of San Mateo and Caltrans. Caltrans must approve all modifications within the Highway 1 right of way. Caltrans will also most likely construct many of the improvements within the right of way envisioned in Connect the Coastside. Caltrans can provide funding for improvements from state and federal funding sources, as well. The County will need Caltrans’ assistance for design, planning, funding and constructing these improvements.


Connect the Coastside will rely on a partnership with SamTrans, San Mateo County’s transit agency. SamTrans provides bus service to the Coastside and broader county community. Any expansion of transit service will require investments by SamTrans in vehicles, maintenance and labor. In addition, SamTrans is currently conducting “Reimagine SamTrans,” a planning effort that could identify further improvements to Coastside service.

California Coastal Commission (CCC)

The California Coastal Commission (CCC) implements the California Coastal Act and oversees development within the Coastal Zone. The County’s Local Coastal Program (LCP), which is certified by the Coastal Commission, includes a policy requiring preparation of the Connect the Coastside plan. The LCP includes policies that address roads and transit, promoting coastal access and protecting coastal resources. These policies will be used in evaluating transportation projects within the Coastal Zone.

San Mateo County Parks and California State Parks Departments

Both San Mateo County Parks and the California State Parks Department provide wonderful recreational opportunities at beaches, parks and nature preserves on the Coastside. Some of the improvements in Connect the Coastside, including segments of the Coastal Trail and Multi-modal Trail, and recreational parking lots, will be located in state or county parks. Park managers can obtain grant funds, secure entitlements, conduct environmental review, construct, maintain, and manage these Connect the Coastside improvements.

City of Half Moon Bay (HMB)

San Mateo County will coordinate with the City of Half Moon Bay on key transportation investments and management strategies. Half Moon Bay is an important partner in alleviating the traffic congestion on Highways 1 and 92 that can hamper coastal access and affect quality of life for residents. Half Moon Bay can collaborate with the county, plan, design and fund improvements, including obtaining grant funding for its own projects.

San Mateo County Transportation Authority (TA)

The San Mateo County Transportation Authority administers the proceeds from Measure A, which is a voter-approved half-cent sales tax that funds many different transportation-related projects and programs. The County can apply to the Transportation Authority for Measure A funds to help pay for many of the recommended improvements in the Connect the Coastside plan.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.  MTC collaborates with a network of other public agencies to help support the streets, roads, highways, transit systems and other transportation resources that help millions of people get to where they need to be. MTC and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) lead the preparation of Plan Bay Area 2050, which includes the regional transportation plan and allocates and prioritizes a variety of transportation funding.

City/County Association of Governments, Congestion Management Agency (C/CAG-CMA)

The City/County Association of Governments (C/CAG), is a Joint Powers Authority whose membership includes San Mateo County and its 20 cities. The City /County Association of Governments works on multiple issues that affect quality of life in general and is the Congestion Management Agency (CMA) for San Mateo County. As the Congestion Management Agency, the City/County Association of Governments prepares a Congestion Management Program every two years. This program identifies future transportation needs and incorporates projects intended to ease and control congestion. The Congestion Management Program also includes priority allocations of federal, state and regional monies for City and County transportation projects. The Congestion Management and Environmental Quality Committee (CMEQ) provides advice and recommendations to the Board of Directors of the City County Association of Governments. The committee provides guidance on all matters relating to traffic congestion management, travel demand management, coordination of land use and transportation planning, mobile source air quality programs, energy resources and conservation, and other environmental issues facing the local jurisdictions in San Mateo County.