Project Accomplished – Sweeney Ridge

This campaign was successful and Sweeney Ridge is now part of the GGNRA. Page is being left online for historical purposes.

Photographs by Stephen Johnson. Sweeney Ridge, Sneath Lane Entry Gate.


Sweeney Gateway Preserved: An Update

By Ernie Gomes, Vice-President

Since January of 2001, the Pacifica Land Trust (PLT) and the Friends of Sweeney Ridge (FOSR) have been committed to preserving 7.2 acres of open space near San Andreas Lake, adjacent to the trailhead to the National Park Service’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area.(GGNRA) Sweeney Ridge trail. Their efforts, along with the hard work of many agencies, were rewarded in August of this year, when a permanent conservation easement was transferred to the NPS for the purpose of protecting, preserving and maintaining the property‘s natural, scenic and historic value.

Although the property is located within the city limits of San Bruno, it was owned by the City of Pacifica, and was zoned to allow for the development of 9 homes. The steeply sloped property is located within the hydrological boundary of watershed lands and drains directly into San Andreas Reservoir. In addition, the property provides access to the popular Sweeney Ridge hiking trail.

The PLT saw the preservation of this property as being vital to maintain the hydrological integrity of the watershed lands. The site also serves as prime habitat for endangered species of animals, including the San Francisco Garter Snake, Mission Blue Butterfly, and the California Red Legged Frog. Also, a proposed link from the Sweeney Ridge Trail to the popular San Andreas Trail runs through a portion of the property.


The City of Pacifica was originally unaware that it owned the property. Once discovered, it was declared surplus property and soon developers became interested in building large single family residences there.

It has been a long tough road since Jan. 11, 2001, when flyers opposing the development were first distributed to neighbors’ doors, In March of 2001, the Friends of Sweeney Ridge was formed and immediately became supporters and collaborators with the Pacifica Land Trust. Shortly afterward, the PLT negotiated a Purchase Option Agreement with the City of Pacifica. This opportunity gave the PLT and FOSR time to build a case, establish the importance of preserving the property, and host several fund-raisers to cover the expenses incurred by the PLT, which included option fees, appraisals, and the production of an outstanding “Pretty Book” that showcased the uniqueness of the property.

The enormous public awareness campaign paid off! In 2004, the Pacific Gas & Electric Company was given permission by the state Public Utilities Commission to construct the Jefferson-Martin high voltage power line in San Mateo County. Since this power line would partially run through the San Francisco watershed, the GGNRA asked PG&E to purchase the Sweeney parcel for open space, as mitigation for the environmental impacts. In 2005, PG&E agreed to contribute $800,000 for the purchase, in addition to other mitigation measures. In August of 2007,escrow closed and Pacifica granted a permanent Conservation Easement to the National Park Service. Now, the “Gateway to Sweeney Ridge” will be protected forever.

Congratulations and thanks to all of you who donated money to the Pacifica Land Trust and to those who worked with the GGNRA (and Ranger George Durgerian) as site stewards. Years of stewardship help to establish a strong bond between the local community and the GGNRA. Also, special thanks to all of those who supported the PLT including , Nancy Hornor and Brian O’Neill of the GGNRA, the San Francisco Water Department, Bay Area Ridge Trails, Trust for Public Land, Committee for Green Foothills, the California State Coastal Conservancy, the offices of California Assembly member Gene Mullin, former State Senator Jackie Speier, Congressman Tom Lantos and the Pacifica and San Bruno City Councils. Without the support and collaboration of all of the above, this project would not have been successful.

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