|Description||The May hearing of the California Coastal Commission, held in Newport Beach, included several notable issues. Most significant were the legislative report, which included discussion of bills to regulate Commission ex partes; the hiring process for the Commission’s new Executive Director; public outcry over the modified Newport Banning Ranch staff report (the project hearing was delayed until September); and an appeal of a Santa Barbara project which resulted in a Commission vote reinforcing the importance of LCPs and water conservation measures mandated at both the state and local levels.|
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|AB 2002||AB 2002 was introduced by Assemblymembers Toni Atkins, Mark Stone and Marc Levine immediately after the Commission fired former Executive Director Charles Lester. The bill requires any agent that lobbies the Commission to register as a lobbyist with the Fair Political Practices Commission. Technical experts, like geologists and planners, would not come under the purview of this legislation. The bill also requires that in the seven days prior to a public hearing on a specific matter, a Commissioner must report any ex parte communication within 24 hours, and no ex parte communications may occur in the 24 hours immediately preceding a public hearing.|
|McGaughey Development|| This project is a request for an after-the-fact approval of the installation of two 3,500-gallon water storage tanks and one 1,500-gallon water storage tank for landscaping of a residential property, and for proposed water delivery service to fill the tanks up to four times a week.
The Coastal Development Permit for the project was approved by the County of Santa Barbara (County). Commissioners Kinsey and Turnbull-Sanders appealed to CDP contending that the project was not consistent with the County’s Local Coastal Program (LCP) and Coastal Act provisions regarding existing public services and new development, protection of water resources, and energy consumption and vehicle miles traveled (vmt).
Staff found that the County did not sufficiently analyze the proposed development to ensure consistency with the policies of the certified LCP. The approved project not only has water demands that significantly exceed the capacity of the existing public water service, it also requires trucking in of water from outside sources. Bringing water in from external sources results in significant vmt and energy consumption. In addition to these impacts, the project was not analyzed for impacts to coastal water resources. Finally, the project also circumvents local water use restrictions, and ignores Governor Brown’s executive orders to reduce water consumption as well as mandated statewide water reductions.
|SB 1190|| SB 1190, introduced by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and coauthored by Assemblymember Das Williams, would ban ex parte communications with a Commissioner for quasi-judicial (i.e., individual permit applications) and enforcement matters.
Several Commissioners spoke against the bill, defending their preference to have private conversations with interested individuals as a way to broaden the conversation around proposals. Commissioner Mark Vargas said he finds ex partes “useful for people… You have more time to talk.” Commissioner Roberto Uranga agreed. “I feel like we are public officials,” he said. “My policy is to be open to the public. We should be accessible.” Commissioners Mary Shallenberger and Carole Groom spoke in favor of the bill. “It’s about making sure every interested party has access to the same information in the same way… being responsible to the public,” Shallenberger said.