|Description||The Coastal Commission’s April hearing took place in Salinas at the Monterey County Board of Supervisors Chambers on Wednesday, April 10 and Thursday, April 11. The abbreviated two-day agenda featured important coastal issues including an enforcement item addressing illegal fill of wetlands in Marin County, the reconstruction of an armoring structure in Capitola and a nonconforming bluff development in Laguna Beach.|
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|Enforcement - Marin Wetlands Fill|| This enforcement item addresses unpermitted grading and fill of over 13 acres of wetlands in Marin County. The wetlands impacted are part of the Estero de San Antonio which empties into Bodega Bay. The wetlands, given their ability to sequester carbon, slow runoff and reduce erosion and filter pollutants have major implications on the health nearby marine protected areas including the San Antonio State Marine Reserve, nearby Bodega Head State Marine Reserve and Conservation Area, and the Point Reyes State Marine Reserve and Conservation Area down coast.
Coastal Commission staff worked with the property owner to come up with a consent settlement that includes restoration of the affected area, the establishment of a conservation easement, a monetary fine of $225,000 immediately and additional fine associated with sale of the property or the easement. Commissioners unanimously approved the consent enforcement orders.
|Laguna Beach Setbacks Appeal|| The City of Laguna Beach had approved a permit for a 1600 square-foot addition and remodel of a blufftop home with additional structures, grading and landscaping; the proposed renovations would have expanded the floor area beyond an additional 50-percent, making it a major remodel. The project came before the Commission on appeal, with staff recommending denial.
Staff explained that the proposed project would not conform with the City’s Land Use Element (LUE) which specifies a minimum 25-foot setback from the bluff edge – this development would actually be sited seaward of the bluff edge, on the bluff face, in direct conflict with the LUE. The applicant spent an inordinate amount of time disputing Coastal Commission staff’s definition of the bluff edge to, ultimately, no avail.
The existing home already does not conform to modern oceanfront bluff edge setbacks, and the Commission found that the City-approved addition would also increase the size and degree of nonconformity, which is prohibited under the Coastal Act. By denying this proposal, Commissioners affirmed that major improvements, beyond repair and maintenance, may not increase degree of nonconformity. Commissioners denied the proposed remodel in a 7-2 vote.