A 3,681-acre La Honda ranch is on its way to becoming the latest — and largest — addition to a growing collection of public open space along the San Mateo coastline.
The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District is planning on purchasing the property for a "bargain” price of $9 million from the Peninsula Open Space Trust. The property was originally purchased by the trust in 2002 for $21 million from the current owner Rudy Driscoll, Jr., and is now valued at $25 million.
The trust is a nonprofit that purchases property in hopes of saving them from development. The open space district uses a portion of local property taxes to purchase, protect and restore the properties from the trust.
Driscoll Ranch is adjacent to the 2,078 acres of the La Honda Open Space Preserve, which already provides three miles of trails to the public. The ranch is home to a variety of habitats for special status species and contains three perennial creeks bordered by 14 miles of forests.
"Certainly it’s another key piece to protecting open space and provide open space activities,” said district spokeswoman Kristi Altieri. "It’s important because it will help protect the rural and agricultural history of the area.”
The late Rudy Driscoll, Sr., purchased the original 1,638-acre ranch in 1968. In the mid-1990s, the Driscoll family bought adjacent properties known as the Wool and Folger ranches.
The property has a long agricultural history.
It was used for logging until the early 1900s, when wheat farming and grazing began. During the 1950s and 1960s, the southwest area of the property was used for oil drilling and exploration. Since 1980, the property has been used for cattle grazing.
When the trust purchased the property, it agreed to a 50-year lease with current owner Rudy Driscoll, Jr. It’s important that Driscoll be allowed to maintain his rights for grazing, pedestrian and equestrian activities on the property, Altieri said.
The property has two broad, grassy ridges lying on both sides of a steep-sided valley and large strands of second-growth redwood, oak and buckeye trees. Near the center of the ranch, Ray’s Peak provides a view of the ocean, according the open space trust.
The property also provides habitat for mountain lions and endangered species like the tiger salamander and the San Francisco garter snake. Deer, bobcat, American badge and coyote have also been identified on the property, according to the open space trust.
The open space district board will hold a meeting Thursday to vote on the purchase’s approval. The money used for the purchase comes from local property taxes.
The amount from taxes is about 1.7 cents per $100 of assessed property value, which currently provides $19.1 million in tax revenue to the district. Other revenue sources may include federal and state grants, interest and rental income, donations, land gifts and note issues.
The district meets 7 p.m. Thursday at La Honda Elementary School, 450 Sears Ranch Road.
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