|Summary|| The City of Pacific Grove proposed to reconstruct a 31-by-5-foot portion of a bluff top retainment wall that collapsed during a storm last winter. The wall protects a coastal trail, outlook point and open space. The City also proposed to remove the fallen bedrock and install new public access amenities.
The Surfrider Foundation and number of local residents raised concerns about the proposed repair given the lack of a long term shoreline management plan for this area, as well as insufficient analysis with regards to environmentally preferred alternatives, need and sea level rise impacts. Notably, there is 80 ft. of open space adjacent to the coastal trail that would provide ample space for this portion of the trail to retreat from the eroding coastline and eliminate the need for retainment wall repairs.
The City of Pacific Grove is currently in violation of permit conditions for repairs to the same retainment wall as it never completed the shoreline management plan required in the 2007 permit. Additionally, the City of Pacific Grove has not yet certified a local coastal program, diminishing their credibility for condition compliance.
Commissioner Donne Brownsey expressed concern about approving this repair citing a need to incorporate more data. Commissioner Mark Vargas said he struggled with the proposal as well due to sea level rise, changing conditions and concern that this may prejudice the shoreline management plan. Commissioner Mary Shallenberger stated she would vote to deny based on the history of violations. She also pointed out that this is how the coast gets armored – one small repair at the time and that a clear option to relocate the trail landward exists.
Commissioner Erik Howell motioned to approve staff’s recommendation. Commissioner Steve Padilla seconded the motion and cited the need for an urgent solution. Commissioner Vargas made an amending motion to reduce the permit duration from 5 to 3 years.
Ultimately, Commissioners approved the permit in a 6-4 vote. In order to fulfill the approved conditions, the City must come back with a shoreline management plan within 3 years and seek a new permit for the repairs.
|Outcome Description||While the repairs to the retainment wall were temporarily permitted, the Commission reduced staff’s recommended time period from 5 to 3 years because the City stated a shoreline management plan could be completed within 18 months. The plan will be added to the LCP.|
|Why You Should Care||This permit would perpetuate a culture of “do now, plan later,” and is one in a long history of so-called “emergency” armoring requests that use urgency as an excuse for poor planning decisions. These quick-fix armoring projects are rarely removed once installed due to the cost and momentum associated with them, causing lasting harm to our precious coastal resources and only to be exacerbated in the face of sea level rise.|
|Staff Recommendation||Approval with Conditions|
|Opposition to Project||Surfrider Foundation, Lisa Ciani, Anthony Ciani|
|Coastal Act Policies||Chapter 3, section 30235 and 30253|
|Mary K. Shallenberger|
View Meeting Page for the meeting where this issue was discussed/voted on.