August Hearing Report

From ActCoastal

By Mandy Sackett | Published 2017/09/25

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Commentary is provided by ActCoastal partners.


This blog represents the views of the authors, and does not necessarily reflect the positions of ActCoastal and its partner organizations.

August Coastal Commission Hearing

The August Coastal Commission hearing was located in Calabasas. The agenda was slightly lighter than usual. On Wednesday, the Surfrider Foundation along with the Sierra Club presented during public comment highlighting the success of Coastal Cleanup Day and the Coastal Commission’s key role in the statewide beach cleanup day. On Thursday, the Surfrider Foundation gave a presentation alerting Commissioners of the dangers of coastal armoring and seawalls, especially related to emergency permits, and presented several cases that will come before the Commission in the near future where alternative solutions must be sought. That presentation can be seen here.

Residential Adaptation Policy Guidance

Commission staff presented an Introduction to the Draft Residential Policy Guidance on Wednesday at the August hearing (Item W6h). Staff also presented the document in a webinar recently, which can be seen here: https://youtu.be/zRVkCMNPQs4.

The purpose of the Residential Adaptation Policy Guidance is to build on the Commission’s existing sea level rise guidance and to expand on strategies for addressing sea level rise and associated public access issues.

The policy guidance suggests local governments review the existing state assessment of residential shoreline areas including mapping and inventory and descriptions of hazards.

The guidance also recommends community scale planning, an implementation strategy and offers model policy language. It also calls for use of best available science, risk disclosure, hazard avoidance and redevelopment regulation policies.

The Commission’s key take home points included: the need for proactive adaptation, internalizing risk, phased approaches, protecting public trust lands, maximizing public participation and starting immediately. Comments are due on September 15 to residentialadaptation@coastal.ca.gov.

The Public Trust Doctrine

On Wednesday, the Center for Ocean Solutions (COS) presented research and a consensus statement developed by a working group, entitled, The Public Trust Doctrine: A Guiding Principle for Governing California’s Coastal Under Climate Change. The presentation discussed how coastal dynamism is related to the common law public trust doctrine and legal boundaries that separate important public and private rights to the coast.

The working group pointed out that new threats as a result of climate change and sea level rise present complicated management challenges. And that the coastal squeeze on natural habitats and risks to development are an enormous societal challenge.

Notably, the public trust doctrine requires the state to act in a manner most protective of public trust resources and uses. The working group argues that the public trust doctrine also grants the state the ability and the duty to regulate or limit any uses of private lands that would substantially impair public interests in nearby trust lands. Furthermore, they assert that the protection of the public trust may involve new regulations, denial of incompatible uses and mitigation measures.

The working group also emphasized that the state consider existing uses and coordinate with other agencies and entities that have decision making authority on properties that will soon enter the public trust boundary as the mean high tide line migrates landward.