|Location||Oxnard Harbor District in Port Hueneme|
|Description||The March meeting of the California Coastal Commission took place over three days at the Oxnard Harbor District in Port Hueneme. Items on the agenda raised several issues critical to California’s coast including shoreline armoring, sea level rise, public access and sediment management. The meeting also featured many notable speakers highlighting local coastal conditions in Oxnard, including representatives from local environmental justice group CAUSE and California State University Channel Islands.|
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|Opal Cliffs Private Access Substantial Issue|| The County-approved project that is the subject of this appeal is the result of a long and protracted case first initiated by Commission enforcement staff in 2006. While the permitting history between the Coastal Commission and the Opal Cliffs Recreation District is undeniably complicated, the fundamental question of whether or not a collective of property owners have the right to charge for access to a public beach is worth examining. The current operation run by OCRD requires those wishing to visit the beach to purchase a $100 gate key for yearly access or pay a $5 fee for a daily pass. The only access to the beach in question is blocked by a 9-foot fence, gate and “gate ambassador” responsible for enforcing the program’s terms. This construct raises significant and fundamental consistency issues with the Coastal Act and California’s coastal management program; in particular, the directive to maximize access for the broadest of the State’s economically and culturally diverse population to our public beach commons.
The Commission heard only the substantial issue portion of the appeal and the de novo hearing was postponed to a future date at the request of the applicant. Commissioners opted to hear the substantial issue presentation and unanimously found substantial issue.
|Reconsideration of Monroe/Sloan Erodible Concrete Seawall|| In December, 2017, the Commission denied a permit application to install a 90-foot long preemptive “erodible” concrete seawall. The applicant claims this decision merits reconsideration on the basis that the Commission committed three errors of law: (1) failure to adopt findings in support of the denial; (2) failure to apply the Certified Land Use Plan for the City of Solana Beach; and (3) improper treatment of the Commission’s Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance as a regulatory document and basis for the denial.
Coastal Commission staff recommended denial of reconsideration since no new relevant evidence was presented and there has been no error of fact or law which has the potential for altering the Commission’s decision. Revised findings in support of the Commission’s denial were also approved at the March hearing.
The Commission used Chapter 3 of the Coastal Act as the standard of review for this application and, although the Commission may use the Solana Beach Land Use Plan as guidance, it is not bound to apply the LUP as the standard of review in a jurisdiction that lacks a fully-certified LCP and that the denial nevertheless was consistent with the LUP policies. The Commission also properly used its adopted 2015 Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance as guidance and a source of best available science in this matter.
Nevertheless, Commissioners voted to approve the applicant’s request to continue this item at a future local hearing in order to receive further testimony from local stakeholders. Continuing the reconsideration for this item is a waste of public resources and staff time, given the Commission already denied the project, approved the revised findings and the staff report found no merit on which to continue or reconsider this item.
|San Francisco PUC Redundancy Infrastructure|| The City and County of San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is proposing to construct new above-ground and subsurface redundancy wastewater infrastructure within a sea level rise and coastal hazard flood zone on the corner of the Great Highway and Sloat Boulevard fronting south Ocean Beach in San Francisco.
SFPUC claims this new development is necessary to improve the reliability of its existing Westside Pump Station and staff recommends approval of the project.
The existing Pump Station is located just inland of South Ocean Beach, with existing above-ground Pump Station infrastructure located between 100 and 200 feet from the bluff top edge above the beach. The SFPUC proposes to locate the new subsurface infrastructure about 25 feet seaward of most existing infrastructure. This area is protected against erosion through ongoing sand and sandbag placement and temporarily authorized riprap in this area. The SFPUC is required by a prior permit to develop and implement a long-term managed retreat solution to the erosion threat to the Great Highway and related SFPUC infrastructure in this area (including the SFPUC’s Oceanside Treatment Plant and the Lake Merced Tunnel) by December 31, 2021 (when the existing described armoring is also required to be removed).
Due to the known coastal hazard risks present at the proposed project location, permitting this infrastructure would be inappropriate, especially given the long-term, stakeholder-driven planning for this area currently underway. If the infrastructure is built as proposed, it would undermine the Ocean Beach Master Plan for this area and may perpetuate future shoreline armoring at this location.