|Summary|| Lawson’s Landing is a 960-acre shoreline property that includes agricultural uses in the form of cattle grazing and a 75-acre low-cost, oceanfront campground, located in the Tomales Dunes complex at the mouth of Tomales Bay, immediately south of the community of Dillon Beach, in western Marin County.
In 2011, the Commission approved a consolidated coastal development permit (CDP) for both new and after-the-fact recreational visitor-serving development and habitat restoration and conservation on the property. That CDP was the end result of a many years effort to resolve complicated and controversial enforcement, permitting and related habitat and recreation issues at the Lawson’s Landing site, and it included the removal of some 167 residential trailer units as a fundamental component.
Because most of the site constituted environmentally sensitive habitat area (ESHA), and because the Commission approved non-resource dependent recreational and visitor-serving camping-related development in ESHA, the Commission’s 2011 approval was based in the conflict resolution provisions of the Coastal Act.
The applicant is now proposing to amend the original CDP to allow for 1) phased construction of a wastewater management system; 2) construction of a recreational visitor center referred to as the “Lawson’s Landing Center”; and 3) habitat restoration. The Commission specified through conditions in the 2011 permit that future development of Area 6 could occur only within legally developed areas. In this application, the Applicant is requesting that the proposed facilities be located partially in Area 6 ESHA areas. The applicant believes that Area 6 is the most feasible, environmentally superior alternative for the proposed Lawson’s Landing Center and the wastewater treatment and wintertime disposal facilities.
Opponents, including the Environmental Action Committee of Marin County, the Surfrider Foundation and the California Coastal Protection Network, assert that the proposed development wound undermine the conflict resolution and special conditions of the 2011 permit which prohibited development in the proposed location and that the staff report contains an insufficient alternatives analysis. The development would threaten valuable coastal resources as Area 6 contains substantial ESHA and California Red-Legged Frog habitat.
Ultimately, the Commissioners agreed with the opposition and voted to deny the permit amendment application.
|Outcome Description|| Commissioner Dayna Bochco began the deliberation citing her concern that this project does not appear to be necessary to maintain the existing low cost overnight accommodations on the property and over its impacts to ESHA. Commissioner Mark Vargas motioned to approve staff’s recommendation of approval with conditions and the motion was seconded by Commissioner Ryan Sundberg. Commissioner Steve Padilla chimed in stating that he did not support the motion due to concerns with impacts to ESHA and the lack of justification to change the original conditions of the permit.
Commissioners directed staff and the applicant to find a location for the proposed development that does not impact ESHA and more closely evaluate alternatives.
|Why You Should Care|| The Commission used conflict resolution in the original 2011 CDP to approve recreational development that otherwise could not have been permitted. Having done that, it explicitly protected specific areas of ESHA from future development, including ESHA in Area 6.
To undo specific limitations and/or special conditions imposed on present and future development that formed critical parts of that conflict resolution process, would have signaled that all such protections obtained under conflict resolution can be removed and render the process itself meaningless. This amendment would have undermined the integrity of myriad current and future CDPs by allowing the use of conflict resolution to justify an illegal development. The development would have also threatened valuable coastal resources as Area 6 contains substantial ESHA and California Red-Legged Frog habitat.
|Decision Type||CDP Amendment|
|Staff Recommendation||Approval with Conditions|
|Opposition to Project||Surfrider Foundation, California Coastal Protection Network, Environmental Action Committee of Marin|
|Coastal Act Policies||Chapter 3|
View Meeting Page for the meeting where this issue was discussed/voted on.