May 2019 Hearing Report

From ActCoastal

By Mandy Sackett | Published 2019/06/27

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May Hearing Report

The Coastal Commission’s May hearing took place in Oxnard at the Oxnard City Council Chambers on Wednesday, May 8 through Friday, May 10. The agenda featured important coastal issues including an enforcement item addressing low cost overnight accommodation in Santa Monica, public access at Hollister Ranch and a comprehensive local coastal program update in Santa Barbara. The meeting resulted in 3 vote charts:

  • On Wednesday, the Commission unanimously approved consent cease-and-desist orders and an administrative fine of $15 million against Sunshine Enterprises, the entity operating the Shore Hotel in Santa Monica in violation of the Coastal Act. Read the full vote chart here.
  • The Commission also heard the coastal development permit associated with the Shore Hotel, an attempt to bring the hotel into compliance. This item was continued as Commissioners were unsatisfied with the staff’s recommended mitigation and directed staff and the applicant to come back with a more direct one-to-one replacement of the loss of low cost overnight accommodations associated with this project. Read the full vote chart here.
  • On Thursday, the Commission denied an application on appeal for construction of a pool and spa in Hollister Ranch. Here, the Commission found that any new development in Hollister Ranch is inconsistent with the Coastal Act given the long overdue and lack of public access to the coast in this portion of California. Read the full vote chart here.

Santa Barbara County LCP Update

On Thursday, the City of Santa Barbara brought forth a comprehensive land use plan (LUP) update before the Commission. The Commission granted the City funding in 2014 and 2016 as part of the Local Assistance Grant Program to facilitate this update which includes policies regarding Highway 101, protection of coastal-dependent uses and public access. It also lays out a framework to address coastal hazards.

Notably, the LUP update defines “substantial redevelopment” as any cumulative development over 50% of major structural components that takes place after certification of the present LUP update. Essentially, this will reset the clock on what the percentage of update is on any development that has taken place in the coastal zone. This was a point of contention between the City and staff as staff contends that the definition should include any development before the Coastal Act was enacted and the City rejected that notion. Executive Director Jack Ainsworth noted, “We can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” However, as Commissioner Donne Brownsey pointed out, this is a significant compromise on behalf of the Commission and may have important implications when it comes to coastal armoring and response to sea level rise since no new or substantially redeveloped structures are entitled to seawalls under the Coastal Act. The City plans to make additional updates to the coastal hazards section of this LUP update moving forward. A vulnerability assessment was recently completed and an adaptation plan is expected to be released this summer. It will be imperative that other definitions and policies are protective of public resources given the potential for broad impacts due to sea level rise and climate change related hazards.