|Summary|| On Thursday, the Commission denied a proposed 1,250 ft. rock revetment at Strands Beach in Dana Point by Orange County Parks. The revetment would have protected private homes at the Niguel Shores Community Association at the expense of public beach space and mitigation funds from taxpayer dollars.
The permit conditions would appropriately apply the real estate valuation method and require a $14,792,933 mitigation fee; however, the project applicant, OC Parks would be on the hook to pay this mitigation fee because the Community Association refused to join the application, claiming the County has sole jurisdiction as a result of a settlement agreement. The Community Association has to join as a co-applicant; otherwise, the Commission has no way to require them to pay the mitigation fee nor impose deed restrictions for no future reliance on shoreline armoring.
Further, the proposed development was not adequately designed to avoid impacts. Surfrider asserts that the alternatives analysis should be subject to more public outreach, review and scrutiny. Options to locate the revetment further landward or avoid it all together should be extensively exhausted before sacrificing invaluable public resources at Strands Beach.
Finally, Surfrider asserts that the proposed application of the mitigation fee was not adequately addressed. No potential project was identified and the permit would have allowed the mitigation to be spent on coastal access improvements adjacent to the beach, rather than focusing on restoring or preserving beach space elsewhere with a living shoreline or natural infrastructure project. The proposed revetment was unanimously denied.
|Outcome Description||Commissioner Sara Aminzadeh pointed out that enforcement of the permit conditions would be extremely limited without the HOA as a co-applicant. Commissioner Mike Wilson suggested the local governments include a hazards district overlay to require sea level rise be addressed here. The County should not be on the hook to ensure stability of this bluff into perpetuity. Commissioner Roberto Uranga expressed concern about what the consequences may be if the slope is not stabilized.|
|Why You Should Care||The people of California would have lost Strands Beach in Dana Point to the sole benefit of the nearby property owners had the proposed revetment been approved. In the interest of what fairness can be found in such a situation, the property owners must be held accountable to pay the mitigation fee since they alone would benefit. By denying this permit, the Commission sent a strong message that they will not sacrifice public beaches for private benefit.|
|Decision Type||Coastal Development Permit|
|Staff Recommendation||Approval with conditions|
|Opposition to Project||Surfrider Foundation, Dana Hills High School Students|
|Coastal Act Policies||Chapter 3|
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