|Summary|| The proposed seawall would remove unpermitted and emergency shoreline armoring and allow a new seawall to be constructed in its place to protect a home that was constructed in 1980, after the Coastal Act went into effect. In 1987, a shoreline protection device was built without a CDP. Based on a review of the California Records Project photographs, the device was modified in 1989 and 1997. None of these modifications were authorized through a CDP.
Later, in 2015, 200 cubic yards of riprap was installed under an emergency permit in advanced of the 2016 El Niño storm season. The riprap permit was extended two years in a row and now the applicant is proposing a permanent seawall put in its place to protect post-Coastal Act development.
The Surfrider Foundation spoke during the public comment portion of this item and commended staff for the conditions that tie the proposed permit to redevelopment of the adjacent home it is protecting as well as the mitigation fee, but noted that the Commission is nonetheless missing an important opportunity to use all of the tools available to help communities protect their coastal resources. The Commission could set an important precedent on interim seawall policy – to protect our coast between now and when LCPs are updated to include comprehensive sea level rise adaptation policies and planning.
Unfortunately, the staff report praised the seawall’s ability to be made higher over time in response to sea level rise. Instead, any wave overtopping should indicate a need to rechannel energy into a longer-term solution.
The Surfrider Foundation suggested that the Commission add special conditions in order to ensure protection of the Public Trust, including: Strengthen special condition #2, the definition of redevelopment, by including the word “any” before alterations. This will help clarify the cumulative nature of redevelopment. Redevelopment should not be the only safeguard for the public beach given sea level rise. Too often, we hear of homeowners upgrading the interior of their house without a CDP and thereby extending the life of their home and evading any cumulative review. When this happens, the property may be able to persist long after a typical development lifespan, typically 75 years. By then, it may be too late to save the beach from sea level rise. Instead, add language that also ties expiration of the permit to a sea level rise trigger such as beach width, or landward migration of the mean high tide line. Additionally, language could be added that also triggers expiration of the permit on a fixed, 20-year time limit. This will ensure that the Commission has the ability to review the proposed development’s impact on highly valuable public trust resources.
Commissioners engaged in discussion on the diocese, expressing concern about this projects and its effects given sea level rise, coastal erosion and the impact on public resources. Chair Bochco mentioned concern that staff’s recommendation will prejudice the LCP update for sea level rise and coastal hazards that is currently under way. Ultimately, the Commission approved the CDP according staff’s recommendation in a 7-1 vote.
|Outcome Description|| Commissioner Donne Brownsey asked the Commission staff to actively investigate the Commission’s process and policies on seawalls.
Executive Director Jack Ainsworth mentioned that staff has defaulted to tieing expiration of a seawall permit to the redevelopment of the adjacent structure as a key condition for seawalls and they would like to maintain consistency. Chair Dayna Bochco mentioned she had a lot of trouble with this permit. She noted that this permit does not appear to apply with permit the 2015 Sea Level RIse Adaptation Guidance and it may prejudice Del Mar’s LCP update for sea level rise and climate change. Commissioner Marciela Morales (alternative for Commissioner Carole Groom) echoed the Chair’s concerns that we are not taking sea level rise serious enough today, saying it’s so enormous, we cannot continue business as usual and that it will provide a signal to what’s okay for the LCP update. Commissioner Luevano also echoed these concerns and added that coastal erosion is a big problem in Del Mar. Executive Director Ainsworth responded that climate change adaptation includes a suite of measures that goes beyond just planned retreat: replenishment, seawalls, etc. He also noted that there are some contexts where shoreline armoring is appropriate to protect homes and property.
Commissioner Aaron Peskin mentioned that this is another emergency permit that is becoming permanent and that the staff report is not classifying this development as after-the-fact. Finally, Commissioner Steve Padilla motioned that the Commission approve staff’s recommendation and the motion passed 7-1.
|Why You Should Care|| We’ve said it before - hard armoring is killing our beaches. When we meet rising seas
with seawalls and revetments, we lose our beaches, the recreational opportunities they provide and the benefits our coastal economy brings to the entire state.
|Staff Recommendation||Approval with Conditions|
|Opposition to Project||Surfrider Foundation|
|Coastal Act Policies||Chapter 3, Del Mar LCP|
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