On the warm, relatively dry Bayside, people could move freely over the wide flatlands with little more than an occasional creek to ford. Ships were safe in the tidal sloughs; roads and railroad tracks could be laid without major problems of terrain. As transportation lines spread along the Bayfront from San Francisco to San Jose, settlements appeared and in time grew and molded into the mass of urbanization we see today.
The Coastside is quite different. It is a region of wild rugged beauty isolated physically and culturally by the Santa Cruz Mountains. These mountains create barriers to the construction of major transportation arteries. They also capture the ocean fog when it spreads over the undulating coastal plain, making the Coastside a cool, damp, gray place. The Coastside's narrow fertile valleys are separated from one another by steep ridges, making travel along the coast by land difficult. The ocean provides no easy alternative. Precipitous coastal cliffs, treacherous currents and reefs threaten the sailor. Although the Coastside was settled early in the American period of San Mateo County, physical isolation and climatic conditions slowed its social and economic development. The entire coastal region remained sparsely settled until the early 1970's when urban growth began to develop in the Mid-Coast area of Half Moon Bay and the small communities of Montara, Moss Beach and El Granada to the north.
In 1976, the State Legislature approved the California Coastal Act. The Coastal Act established a permanent Coastal Commission and a Coastal Zone ranging in width from several hundred feet in urban areas to up to 5 miles in rural areas in San Mateo County. It mandated that every jurisdiction in the Coastal Zone prepare a Local Coastal Program (LCP) to guide development and protect coastal resources.
The San Mateo County LCP, scheduled for final adoption in late 1980, provides comprehensive policies and implementation programs for the overall protection of this dramatically scenic and historically rich segment of San Mateo County. The main emphasis, however, is on the protection of agricultural, open space, and scenic resources. The impact of new development on historically or culturally important resources is not addressed. Furthermore, the Coastal Act encourages the concentration of new development in already developed areas. Beacause of this, the authentic character of small rural villages such as Pescadero and San Gregorio may be endangered unless measures are identified and a program implemented to assure that new development is compatible.
To fund this project, the County received a matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Without this grant, the development of this program would not have been possible.
The major parts of this preservation plan are: (l) the identification of the regions's historical functions(s), (2) criteria for determining cultural significance, (3) an inventory of cultural resources, and (4) an implementation program for their protection.
The combination of three factors--(1) a limited roadway system, (2) a sparsely developed, scenic area, and (3) the existence of many cultural features visible from the roads provide the basis for the unique preservation program presented here: protecting cultural resources through the establishment of scenic corridors along coastal roadways. This program is a bold planning approach, encompassing both the structural and natural elements of the region in the preservation process.
Before delving into the program, however, it is important to first review the historical setting of the Coastside in order to more fully understand the relationship of present day cultural resources with their past.