|Summary|| The proposed permit amendment seeks to revise the special conditions for a previously approved 256 ft. shoreline protection device in Solana Beach. The device was originally permitted in 2010 for 20 years to protect pre-Coastal Act development. The amendment would authorize the seawall and concrete backfill for the life of the bluff top structures. The seawall is located on a public bluff fronting five single-family residences. The existing seawall is currently authorized for a period of twenty years from the date of Commission approval of CDP #6-09-033 (October 14, 2010). This CDP amendment proposes to remove the twenty-year permit term, and instead tie the authorization of the seawall to the life of the existing threatened structures the armoring is required to protect. The applicant claims that this amendment will reduce the burden of the 20-year deed restriction for current homeowners without resulting in any additional coastal impacts.
The Surfrider Foundation testified in opposition to the amendment, raising concern that without the 20 year permit trigger we may not have the opportunity to reevaluate this seawall, especially as circumstances change. Sea level rise and increased beach erosion are likely to increase over time, resulting in significant impacts to coastal access at locations fronting shoreline protection devices. In addition, one of the blufftop homes was recently permitted for redevelopment and has not yet begun construction – under the amendment this should trigger the requirement for reevaluation of the seawall. Despite these objections, Commissioners approved the amendment in a 7-1 vote.
|Outcome Description||Commissioner Steve Kinsey moved to approve staff’s recommendation to approve the amendment. He agreed that the 20-year permit reevaluation requirement is a significant burden for homeowners and subsequent homeowners, who may not even be aware of the requirement. Commissioners voted 7-1 to approve the amendment.|
|Why You Should Care|| This is a troubling work around to seawall permitting that could result in long term beach environment impacts. The incremental review of seawalls (as originally permitted) is viable and superior because it ensures the ability to review the seawall in light of changed circumstances over time. Linking seawalls to the life of a structure almost certainly ensures that homeowners will develop in a way that evades the definition of redevelopment and will prolong the life of the seawall, rather than redeveloping in a way that conforms with setback requirements that take sea level rise and climate change impacts into account and reduce the need for shoreline protection.
In the end, the public and beaches lose. Coastal advocated have been fighting seawalls for over 40 years, when even then it was clear they created significant problems and don’t solve coastal erosion. Today, we are still fighting the same shortsighted planning decisions.
|Decision Type||Coastal Development Permit Amendment|
|Staff Recommendation||Approval with Conditions|
|Opposition to Project||Surfrider Foundation|
|Coastal Act Policies||Chapter 3 Section 30235|
|Mary K. Shallenberger|
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