|Description||The September Coastal Commission hearing was located in Cambria with a two-day agenda slightly lighter than usual. On Wednesday, the Surfrider Foundation gave a presentation during public comment highlighting ongoing permit violations associated with the shoreline armoring revetment at Goleta Beach. The meeting resulted in one vote chart item, a new seawall protecting post-Coastal Act development in Del Mar.|
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|Camino Del Mar - Del Mar Seawall|| The proposed seawall would remove unpermitted and emergency shoreline armoring and allow a new seawall to be constructed in its place to protect a home that was constructed in 1980, after the Coastal Act went into effect. In 1987, a shoreline protection device was built without a CDP. Based on a review of the California Records Project photographs, the device was modified in 1989 and 1997. None of these modifications were authorized through a CDP.
Later, in 2015, 200 cubic yards of riprap was installed under an emergency permit in advanced of the 2016 El Niño storm season. The riprap permit was extended two years in a row and now the applicant is proposing a permanent seawall put in its place to protect post-Coastal Act development.
The Surfrider Foundation spoke during the public comment portion of this item and commended staff for the conditions that tie the proposed permit to redevelopment of the adjacent home it is protecting as well as the mitigation fee, but noted that the Commission is nonetheless missing an important opportunity to use all of the tools available to help communities protect their coastal resources. The Commission could set an important precedent on interim seawall policy – to protect our coast between now and when LCPs are updated to include comprehensive sea level rise adaptation policies and planning.
Unfortunately, the staff report praised the seawall’s ability to be made higher over time in response to sea level rise. Instead, any wave overtopping should indicate a need to rechannel energy into a longer-term solution.
The Surfrider Foundation suggested that the Commission add special conditions in order to ensure protection of the Public Trust, including: Strengthen special condition #2, the definition of redevelopment, by including the word “any” before alterations. This will help clarify the cumulative nature of redevelopment. Redevelopment should not be the only safeguard for the public beach given sea level rise. Too often, we hear of homeowners upgrading the interior of their house without a CDP and thereby extending the life of their home and evading any cumulative review. When this happens, the property may be able to persist long after a typical development lifespan, typically 75 years. By then, it may be too late to save the beach from sea level rise. Instead, add language that also ties expiration of the permit to a sea level rise trigger such as beach width, or landward migration of the mean high tide line. Additionally, language could be added that also triggers expiration of the permit on a fixed, 20-year time limit. This will ensure that the Commission has the ability to review the proposed development’s impact on highly valuable public trust resources.
Commissioners engaged in discussion on the diocese, expressing concern about this projects and its effects given sea level rise, coastal erosion and the impact on public resources. Chair Bochco mentioned concern that staff’s recommendation will prejudice the LCP update for sea level rise and coastal hazards that is currently under way. Ultimately, the Commission approved the CDP according staff’s recommendation in a 7-1 vote.