It has been a twenty-year journey, but we will finally have a groundbreaking ceremony on the Big Wave property on August 15th.
It was approximately twenty years ago that Steve and Jamie Barber and my wife Valerie and I came up with the idea of Big Wave and began to lay the groundwork.
We have owned the property for more than 20 years. We asked other families in our community to join us in our effort to use the land to provide affordable housing, meaningful employment and community to adults with special needs. They heard our call and we quickly built a strong coalition of local support. Over the years, we successfully built support throughout the county. We have had to jump through many state and local hoops in order for us to build Big Wave. We were prepared to meet the many regulations and fees, and we did, finally, after twenty years of waiting, hoping and believing in our mission.
When we introduced the Big Wave idea to the community, most understood the need for what we call “intentional community” for our most vulnerable adults. With the encouragement of the families, San Mateo County supervisors, mayors and countless parents, we began the process of applying and reapplying and applying and reapplying for the necessary permits. It took twenty years, but the county agreed once they saw how many families on the Coast support Big Wave.
I have a lot of people to thank for getting us to this point—of course, Kim Gainza, my right hand, Scott Holmes, each Board of Director for their incredible patience and determination, our families, and to my daughter Elizabeth whom has given me such a wonderful purpose in life. And thank you to our government officials, especially Supervisors Horsley and Pine, and Planning staff Steve Monowotz and Camille Leung, who approved the plans and supported us through it all. Thank you for working with us.
We’ve been farming on the property since 2010, working with sixty adults with special needs each day. We are developing, maintaining, and improving a sustainable, year-round food production system that will help supply the daily requirement of fresh fruit, salad greens, vegetables, and eggs for our future residents. We are learning how to grow our own food and raise chickens in an organic and sustainable manner. Our residential plan calls for more than 8 acres to be available for farming and egg and honey production.
We will be starting the water and sewer main lines this September.
We want to continue supporting local team sports—including Challenger Baseball and 50 players on the Coastside Special Olympics basketball teams. We can hardly wait to resume these successful programs after things return to normal.
Our goal is to break ground for actual construction this fall. Keep your fingers crossed because we have many local families and businesses that are eager to join us as soon as possible, for the sake of so many adults with special needs.
So welcome to Big Wave. We are an organization that believes that we are only as great as the communities that we serve. Alongside with One Step Beyond and several other programs that support adults with special needs, we continue to work together to help create a community in which everyone has a place to call home.
Jeff Peck is the founder and CEO of Big Wave.