|Description|| The May hearing was held in Santa Barbara. Several complicated issues dominated the agenda. A Coastal Development Permit (CDP) application was brought forth to retain a rock revetment at Goleta Beach, near Santa Barbara. Opinions were divided amongst the local community and environmental advocates—with some wanting to keep the rock revetment, and others supporting its removal. In the end, the Commission voted to retain the rock revetment.
Sweetwater Mesa was another controversial project before the Commission at this hearing. The Commission previously denied this multi-dwelling project (and has been to court with the Applicant). Over the years, opponents have objected to the development because it would impact extremely sensitive habitat. Recently opponents raised concerns that the project will undermine the recently adopted Santa Monica Mountains LCP that specifically protects sensitive habitat and view sheds.
Finally, two other interesting items are highlighted in this vote chart—a dispute resolution regarding the Monterey Bay Shores Project and the federal consistency determination to allow in-water restoration work to begin at Drakes Estero Wilderness area in Point Reyes National Seashore.
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|Drakes Estero Wilderness Federal Consistency Determination|| The Point Reyes National Seashore (Seashore) submitted a consistency determination to the Commission to remove shellfish debris and infrastructure in Drakes Estero Wilderness area. The Seashore proposed to remove 95 pressure-treated wood racks spread across seven acres of the estuary, comprising between 200,000 and 250,000 board feet of lumber (approximately 470 tons) previously used to support mariculture operations.
The Seashore estimated that approximately 0.59 acres of eelgrass would be temporarily impacted by the restoration work. However, the restoration would remove so much debris and wooden structures that it is anticipated that 2.8 acres of eelgrass habitat would be created, resulting in a restoration ratio of 4.7:1. This is much higher than the typical restoration ratio of 1.2:1. The Commission staff’s analysis concluded that the Seashore’s restoration plan takes appropriate precautions to ensure the protection of biological resources and public access, to avoid harbor seal disturbance, to minimize the spread of non-native bio-fouling organisms, to prepare and adhere to an oil spill prevention and response plan, and to adhere to an anchoring plan that minimizes placement of anchoring devices in eelgrass.
|Monterey Bay Shores Resort 2|| The Commission held a lengthy hearing regarding the CDP application to build a ten-story, 368 unit luxury condo and hotel complex on 39 acres of coastal sand dunes in Sand City (Monterey County). The project was conditionally approved in April 2014 after many years of court battles resulting in settlement conditions. Numerous special conditions must be met before the Applicant can proceed, including to produce documentation/plans to protect habitat, scenic views and public access. Nearly one year after approval, the Applicant has still had not met required conditions.
As noted in Staff report: “Staff has requested certain materials to be able to assess compliance with the conditions and the Applicant has refused to provide these because it claims that they are unnecessary. Second, staff has concluded that the materials that have been submitted show the project to be inconsistent with some aspects of the Commission’s approval.”
The Applicant requested a ‘dispute resolution hearing’. Procedurally, during a dispute resolution, the Commission’s Executive Director will determine if there is a lack of documentation/evidence, or not. Once the Executive Director makes a determination, the Commission must vote to uphold the Executive Director decision, or not. In this case, the Executive Director found the application to be incomplete.