|Description||The Coastal Commission’s November hearing was a busy two days at Bodega Bay. Key issues included protection of ESHA in Marin County, shoreline armoring in San Francisco, and coastal access in Santa Barbara County. The Commission made “good” decisions on two key votes but continues to make poor decisions when it comes to shoreline armoring.|
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|Cojo Jalama Ranch|| Item Th18.1 and 18.2 Enforcement Report - Cojo Jalama Ranch Consent Cease and Desist Order No. CCC-17-CD-03 and Consent Restoration Order No. CCC-17-RO-01
This enforcement action addresses unpermitted development activities that were conducted across a large coastal property, known as the Cojo and Jalama Ranches in Santa Barbara County, which occupies an 11-mile swath of coastline on either side of Point Conception. The unpermitted development includes the installation of thirty seven water wells and significant sensitive habitat destruction in several locations, all done without approval under the Coastal Act.
In October of 2017, after many years of concerted efforts to reach an amicable settlement of the issues on the Ranch, and more specifically over the last six months, the property owner agreed to the terms of the proposed Consent Orders. Through the Consent Orders, the owners agreed to apply to Santa Barbara County for after-the-fact authorization to retain some or all of the water wells, to remove any wells for which such authorization is either not sought or is denied, and to restore areas impacted by the aforementioned wells.
Additionally, the Consent Orders require full restoration of all remaining areas impacted by unpermitted development, undertake two separate mitigation projects totaling approximately five hundred acres: 200 acres of oak tree planting, and 300 acres of ice plant removal from coastal prairie.
Notably, the owners will also transfer approximately 36 acres of coastal property located between Jalama Beach Park to the county park to expand the campground and park area and will pay $500,000 to the Commission’s Violation Remediation Account.
Environmental Defense Center, California Native Plant Society, Surfrider Foundation, California Coastal Protection Network and Gaviota Coast Conservancy all supported the proposed consent order and settlement agreement. Commissioners unanimously approved the cease and desist and consent restoration order.
|Lawson's Landing|| Lawson’s Landing is a 960-acre shoreline property that includes agricultural uses in the form of cattle grazing and a 75-acre low-cost, oceanfront campground, located in the Tomales Dunes complex at the mouth of Tomales Bay, immediately south of the community of Dillon Beach, in western Marin County.
In 2011, the Commission approved a consolidated coastal development permit (CDP) for both new and after-the-fact recreational visitor-serving development and habitat restoration and conservation on the property. That CDP was the end result of a many years effort to resolve complicated and controversial enforcement, permitting and related habitat and recreation issues at the Lawson’s Landing site, and it included the removal of some 167 residential trailer units as a fundamental component.
Because most of the site constituted environmentally sensitive habitat area (ESHA), and because the Commission approved non-resource dependent recreational and visitor-serving camping-related development in ESHA, the Commission’s 2011 approval was based in the conflict resolution provisions of the Coastal Act.
The applicant is now proposing to amend the original CDP to allow for 1) phased construction of a wastewater management system; 2) construction of a recreational visitor center referred to as the “Lawson’s Landing Center”; and 3) habitat restoration. The Commission specified through conditions in the 2011 permit that future development of Area 6 could occur only within legally developed areas. In this application, the Applicant is requesting that the proposed facilities be located partially in Area 6 ESHA areas. The applicant believes that Area 6 is the most feasible, environmentally superior alternative for the proposed Lawson’s Landing Center and the wastewater treatment and wintertime disposal facilities.
Opponents, including the Environmental Action Committee of Marin County, the Surfrider Foundation and the California Coastal Protection Network, assert that the proposed development wound undermine the conflict resolution and special conditions of the 2011 permit which prohibited development in the proposed location and that the staff report contains an insufficient alternatives analysis. The development would threaten valuable coastal resources as Area 6 contains substantial ESHA and California Red-Legged Frog habitat.
Ultimately, the Commissioners agreed with the opposition and voted to deny the permit amendment application.
|Sharp Park Coastal Armoring|| Item W9a 2-17-0702 Sharp Park Golf Course ATF Coastal Armoring
San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department (SFRPD) sought an after-the-fact authorization of a previously constructed shoreline armoring structure that is located seaward of the Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica, consisting of an earthen berm approximately 3,200 feet in total length, including two sections of rock riprap fronting the berm, approximately 1,425 feet in length total.
In response to heavy storms, caused by the El Niño winter storms of 1982/83, the Commission approved multiple CDP amendments to authorize reconstruction of the berm to protect the Sharp Park Golf Course. In the time since, the berm has been gradually modified, including through additions of rock, without a CDP. SFRPD submitted this after-the-fact CDP application requesting authorization for the unpermitted berm expansion.
SFRPD did not simply repair and/or maintain the berm in its permitted configuration, but instead created a new armoring structure at this location over time. As a result, the expanded and augmented berm is evaluated as a new replacement structure rather than maintenance and repair of existing permitted development.
The proposed armoring structure is designed to protect the existing Sharp Park Golf Course. The Golf Course provides an affordable, visitor-serving recreational opportunity open to the public at a lower cost than most other golf clubs in the area, many of which are private and require membership fees. The staff report also claims that impacts to coastal resources from the armoring can be appropriately mitigated through conditions of approval requiring public access enhancements. However, opponents argued that the existing golf course is not coastal dependent and does not qualify for shoreline armoring and that access to and along the beach itself should not be sacrificed for access near the beach.
Since at least 2013, the Surfrider Foundation has provided repeated notice to the Commission of SFRPD’s violation. Surfrider has long considered SFRPD’s conduct unacceptable: SFRPD has violated the Coastal Act for several years, by constructing and maintaining a rock revetment on the property without a required CDP. The National Parks Conservation Association and several local residents also spoke in opposition to the project.
Ultimately, the permit was approved with an amendment to reduce the duration of the permit from 20 to 10 years and monitoring report from 10 to 5 years - a slight improvement but ultimately, this seawall should not have been permitted. The Vote Chart reflects the main motion.