|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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|2 Mirada Half Moon Bay|| The Coastal Commission reviewed an application by 2 Mirada Ownership Group and Casa Mira Homeowner’s Association to construct an approximately 250-ft. long tied-back concrete seawall, fronting both residential development and a portion of the California Coastal Trail in Half Moon Bay.
A rock revetment was originally built in this location under an emergency permit a few years ago in response to erosion. This new application would have removed the rock and constructed a more low-profile vertical seawall protecting an apartment building constructed before the Coastal Act was enacted in 1977 – and is therefore entitled to a seawall – as well as a portion of the California Coastal Trail.
The staff report justifies armoring the Coastal Trail by calling it a coastal-dependent use. Surfrider argued that the Coastal Trail is not a coastal-dependent use, but can be relocated and is therefore not entitled to shoreline armoring, and that using the Coastal Trail as justification would set a terrible precedent for the rest of the state. Commissioners agreed and approved the seawall only for protection of the apartment building at 2 Mirada, not for the Coastal Trail.
|2018 Sea Level Rise Science Update||The Coastal Commission continues its legacy of leadership on coastal sea level rise adaptation. At the November hearing, the Commission approved incorporating the Ocean Protection Council’s Rising Seas science report and 2018 Sea Level Rise Guidance to help facilitate local governments’ ability to make planning and permitting decisions with the best available science, including the latest sea level rise models and projections. The Surfrider Foundation, along with Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club California, the Environmental Center of San Diego and the California Coastal Protection Network, supported the update and also suggested additional guidance including proactive consideration of managed retreat and increasing the adaptive capacity for coastal habitats. While those specific updates were not ultimately included, the Science Update is an advancement in planning for sea level rise.|
|22nd District Agricultural Association (Del Mar Fairgrounds)||The Del Mar Fairgrounds applied for year-round parking lot on a wetland site where they admitted to previously illegally filling and grading.|
|AB 1129 – Coastal Access and Preservation Act|| This bill would amend PRC 30235 to define “existing structure” as structures built prior to January 1, 1977, and to specify that shoreline protection devices must be approved consistent with the Coastal Act policies protecting public access, shoreline ecology, natural landforms and other impacts on coastal resources. The bill would specify that emergency permits issued for shoreline protective devices are intended to allow the minimum amount of temporary development necessary to address the emergency situation. The bill would also amend PRC 30821 to allow for the imposition of administrative penalties for unpermitted shoreline protective devices.
Staff recommended support of the bill and the need for close analysis of seawalls, especially given the extremely pressing issue of sea level rise and the need to appropriately address its impacts while preserving public resources.
Commissioners approved support of the bill on a vote of 11-1.
|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.|
|ATF Shoreline Armoring Goleta Beach|| This is a request by Santa Barbara County to amend a permit granted with conditions to include after-the-fact authorization for installation and retention of 3 sections of geotextile cells filled with cobble and earth that are located downcoast of the approved rock revetment and are approx. 10-20 ft. wide, 9-12 ft. high, and total 415 linear ft. at back of beach and within central lawn area of Goleta Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County.
The amendment proposes to retain the unpermitted development. Staff recommended approval with conditions that require re-evaluate the plan after 20 years or if the revetment is exposed for 24 months in total from the date of permit issuance.
|Amending Clause to Interim Executive Director Appointment|| As well vocalized by many public speakers at the March Coastal Commission hearing, deciding upon an interim Executive Director is not a position that the public desired. Virtually all in attendance reiterated what they asked of the Coastal Commission in February: Give us Dr. Lester. Unfortunately, that is not an option.
According to optimistic Commissioners, the search for a new Executive Director is projected to take at least six months. In the meantime, as articulated by Commissioner Bochco, it is critical that Commission Staff feel supported and that there is stability provided to ensure that work carries on. As a result, Chair Steve Kinsey, Vice-Chair Bochco nominated Senior Deputy Director Jack Ainsworth to act as Interim Executive Director while the search is underway. This was strongly supported by Commissioner Carole Groom and many members of the public.
However, Commissioner Roberto Uranga felt that having Mr. Ainsworth as interim director could have negative effects on the hiring process, “…having someone on an interim basis who would also be an applicant would be a hindrance… in encouraging people to apply.” He offered an amending motion that would require Mr. Ainsworth to step down from the position of acting Executive Director if he chose to apply in order to not discourage people from applying to the position.
|Bannasch Living Trust sea cave-notch fill||The applicants in this case chose to rebuild their home in 1991 and place it within the 40 foot setback zone just 29 feet from the bluff edge. In exchange, they waived their right to a future seawall through a deed restriction but were allowed to maintain their sea cave notch fills. In this application, they requested permission to repair and expand the 5 existing sea caves with erodible concrete. The proposed “expansions” would cover 92 feet of previously unarmored bluff.|
|Batiquitos Lagoon Public Access Trail|| The Commission heard an enforcement action to resolve long-standing violations of more than 30 years related to the failure to construct a public access trail at a residential community in Carlsbad known as the Rosalena community. The community is situated on a blufftop on the north side of Batiquitos Lagoon. The trail will overlook the Batiquitos Lagoon Ecological Reserve, part of the state’s network of marine protected areas.
In addition to the trail, the Home Owners Association (HOA) will install benches, interpretive signage, delineate public parking spaces and will secure a public access easement over an adjacent property to increase the value of the Rosalena trail and link it with a larger network making it part of an interconnected network of trails.
Staff proposed a consent administrative penalty in addition to the consent cease and desist order. Staff reported that the current HOA board owners have been very cooperative and that they purchased their properties after the buildings were originally constructed. With that in mind staff, recommended an administrative fine of $540,000, which will go to the Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation to fund school programs and potential land acquisitions.
|Bay City Partners LLC Development||This project is uniquely located along the San Gabriel River and adjacent to the ocean in Seal Beach. The application includes ‘subdivision and sale’ of 32 residential lots, a 6.4 acre park, a public easement over a bike bath, and access to parking for recreation.|
|Bay City Partner’s Appeal of Executive Director Determination|| This vote was not based on the merits of the proposed project, but whether the project application is complete. Commission Staff deemed the application incomplete and the Applicant appealed Staff’s decision. While the Commission was not voting on the project itself, some Commissioners expressed concerns over the fact that the project requires a “land exchange” with State Lands Commission (SLC) and there is currently no official agreement in place. The land swap would involve SLC relinquishing public land and acquiring another parcel of land in a different location (near an old oil plant, with less biological and recreational value).
The property in question is currently designated as “Visitor Serving/Commercial”, yet the Applicant asserts that “visitor serving use” is not financially viable, and requested the land designation be changed to residential. Over the past year, Commission Staff repeatedly requested additional information from the Applicant to no avail, including: (1) an approved land exchange from SLC concluding the public trust easement no longer exists where residential use is proposed; (2) “rate of return” analysis for the proposed residential project; and (3) a mitigation proposal for the loss of visitor-serving overnight accommodations.
|Big Lagoon Park||This application was for a redesignation and rezoning of portions of a 13-acre parcel to allow for relocation of 14 cabins away from the parcel’s bluff. The modifications to the amendment include the point that there will be no resulting increase in development potential, and that the relocation shall not result in a later need for construction of shoreline protection devices having substantial impacts on the natural landform.|
|Black Hill Villas||A proposal to subdivide two parcels into 17 residential parcels and one common area, and to construct 17 single-family residences with two-car garages, two of which would be built to City of Morro Bay standards for affordable units. The proposed project includes demolition of two existing residences and two small associated structures, removal of some 43 onsite trees, and construction of a new paved road and a public pedestrian trail.|
|Broad Beach||The Broad Beach Geologic Hazard Abatement District applied for authorization of a 4,150 ft revetment, moving a portion of the revetment landward, an attempt at dune restoration using the revetment as the dune-base, and a beach nourishment program (bringing in 300,000 cubic yards of inland sand every 5 years and 75,000 cubic yards each year in between if needed). This is an improvement as it cuts the amount of sand that was initially proposed to be dumped on the beach from 600,000 cubic yards to 300,000 cubic yards, thus helping to protect Broad Beach’s Marine Protected Area. Additionally, the project includes requiring homeowners to move their septic systems to a combined waste treatment plant, which will hopefully prevent sewage from polluting the beach area. However, the approved project compromises public access. Coastal Commission Staff had recommended that if, in the future, the beach eroded within 10 feet of the revetment (on the seaward side), a pedestrian path on the landward side of the revetment should be automatically opened for the public to ensured continued access to the beach. This recommendation reflected a reasonable compromise that would have protected both private property and public beach access. However, the Broad Beach property owners refused to enter into a proper easement and the Commission ultimately backed down and approved a project that does not include a “back up” pathway. Public access in the future is only guaranteed if the Executive Director of the Commission determines that the beach has eroded 10 feet or more seaward side of the revetment in three out of “any five-year period.”|
|Brown After-the-Fact Permit|| This project brought into discussion the interesting issue of a post-Coastal Act development requiring an after-the-fact permit for a seawall necessary to protect both the applicant’s home and a neighboring pre-Coastal Act development, plus the gravel that was placed on the mid and upper bluff, a new bluff top deck and a “deadman” retaining system on the bluff top.
The deadman retaining system was temporarily authorized under an emergency permit due to a large landslide that occurred in 1996. In 1997, the applicant still had not applied for a regular CDP for the retaining system nor had he applied for a CDP for the new bluff top deck that had been built. The Commission sent a Notice of Violation detailing the ongoing violations, but it was largely ignored. In 1999, additional bluff construction activities were undertaken without Commission approval and a letter to halt construction and reminding the applicants of the need to complete a CDP application was delivered. The back-and-forth of notifications sent, incomplete applications submitted and numerous other letters sent or submitted by the Commission Staff regarding the lack of compliance would continue for years.
A completed application for a CDP was finally submitted in October 2015.
While seawalls and other forms of hard armoring are not something to be celebrated, because this one was required to protect a pre-Coastal Act development, the fact that armoring impacts on sand supply and public access were acknowledged and factored into the conditions of the permit reflects Commission staff’s good work.
Originally, as a condition for the permit, the applicant was to pay a sand supply fee of $1,096. He would have also been required to pay a public access and recreation mitigation fee of $154,662 if Commissioners hadn’t opted to drop it due to claims of inequity with how past permits were issued to neighboring properties, ignoring the fact that the neighbors took permitting steps in a timely and cooperative manner. The sand supply mitigation fee was calculated to determine the volume of sand that would have reached the beach if not prohibited by the shoreline armoring over a 22-year period. The public access and mitigation fee would have been to mitigate for the adverse impacts to public access and recreation resulting from the project (due to loss of beach). The final motion held the applicant responsible for the sand supply fee, but not the public access and recreation mitigation fee. He was determined to be responsible for a fee of $5,833 (factored by the square impacts of the wall).
|CEMEX Cease and Desist|| Since the early 1900s, sand mining companies have extracted sand from the Monterey coast. Although almost all were eventually shut down, one located in Marina has continued to take sand from the coast for several decades. This plant, owned by CEMEX, has also long been the subject of controversy in the community as it had become apparent that the Monterey coast was the fastest eroding coastline in California, likely due to the sand mining operations. In March, 2016, after years of urging by residents and the accumulation of scientific evidence, the Coastal Commission’s enforcement division informed CEMEX that a cease-and-desist order was imminent. As a result, settlement discussions between the sand mining corporation and Commission staff subsequently followed..
Meanwhile, on May 16, 2017, also in response to community activism, the State Lands Commission (SLC) wrote a letter to CEMEX, stating that the extraction of sand by the dredge pond required a lease that the company did not have and that the extraction of sand from the dredge pond without compensation to the state constituted expropriation of public property in violation of the California Constitution. The SLC further alleged that the sand extraction operation was a nuisance. Then, on June 6, 2017, the Marina City Council adopted a resolution finding that the dredge pond extraction operation constitutes a public nuisance. In the meantime, Commission enforcement staff continued negotiations with CEMEX and ultimately reached a consent order to resolve the alleged Coastal Act violations.
The agreement requires that CEMEX stop sand mining on the property after three years; caps the amount of sand that can be mined during this time; requires CEMEX to remove dredges and other equipment from the property; abstains from causing any further changes in intensity of use; undertakes reclamation of the property and protects sensitive species on site; and ultimately transfers the property to an approved nonprofit or governmental entity for conservation at a reduced price, with a deed restriction to protect the access and the habitat at the site in perpetuity.
Commissioner Mary Shallenberger motioned to approve the consent order pursuant to staff’s recommendation. She offered appreciation to enforcement staff and Cemex for the momentous decision. She added that the 3-year allowance is a reasonable time frame to allow CEMEX wind down operations and transition its staff. Commissioner Donne Brownsey seconded the motion. Commissioners unanimously approved staff’s recommendation and thus marked a momentous and historic decision in support of coastal protection.
|Cabrillo Power I LLC Dredging Project||Cabrillo Power submitted an application for a permit to dredge 500,000 cubic yards of sand from the bottom of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon and deposit the dredged sand on North, Middle, and South Beach in Carlsbad.|
|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.
|Carr Cabana Appeal||This was an appeal by Commissioners Zimmer and Bochco regarding the approval of a permit in the Hope Ranch area of Santa Barbara County. The property in question is a bluff-top estate with several pre-Coastal Act non-conforming structures including a cabana located in the middle of an eroding bluff . The prior owner had done extensive unpermitted work and was the subject of at least two open violations cases. The current owners, who were aware of the unpermitted work prior to purchase, applied to the County for a permit in 2009 for “as built’ construction. That application was withdrawn when the County recommended denial and the removal of the cabana. The owner then sought Landmark status for the cabana that was initially denied. A second attempt at Landmark status was approved in 2012. The owner then argued that the cabana’s Landmark status trumped all other policies in the LCP. The Planning Commission went against its staff’s recommendation of denial and ultimately approved the “as built” permit in March 2014. It is that local government decision that was appealed.|
|Cayucos Del Mar Hotel|| The Cayucos Del Mar Hotel applicant, Frank DeCicco, proposed to subdivide 18 legal lots of record into three lots (two residential lots and one commercial lot) and to construct a 19-room, moderate cost, hotel (the “Cayucos Del Mar Hotel”) with associated underground hotel parking and landscaping. It would be located at the northeast corner of Ocean Boulevard and Old Creek Road, just inland of Highway 1, in the unincorporated community of Cayucos in San Luis Obispo County.
The Commission previously heard an appeal of the San Luis Obispo’s permit for the project in 2009. Substantial issue was found. In 2015, the applicant submitted an amendment to slightly scale down the hotel project and eliminate the residential component. As such, Coastal Commission staff recommended approval of the project with conditions and determined that no additional low cost accommodation mitigation was necessary given that 4 of the rooms are considered lower cost.
There was significant community opposition to the project due to objections of the project’s inconsistency with the County’s LUP policies including community character, parking concerns and visual impacts.
|Cayucos Sanitary District Chevron Outfall Repurposing||The Cayucos Sanitary District (CSD) proposed to repurpose an existing Chevron Estero Marine Terminal offshore pipeline for use as a treated wastewater effluent outfall with discharge from a new tertiary Water Resource Recovery Facility that the CSD is constructing further inland. The proposed work is part of a larger project called the Cayucos Sustainable Water Project that ultimately seeks to achieve 100% reuse of the treated effluent produced by the CSWP. Surfrider opposed repurposing Chevron’s ocean outfall in Cayucos and instead urged Cayucos to find a way to recycle their water, find creative storage solutions or share an existing outfall with the City of Cambria. Surfrider was concerned the community may become dependent on this outfall, using it for other needs rather than planning for zero ocean outfall. Commissioner Mike Wilson addressed this concern by adding a special condition prohibiting any other uses for the outfall. Commissioners approved the project unanimously.|
|Cease and Desist Order OceanAire Apartments Pacifica|| On Thursday, the Commission heard a cease and desist order involving the collapse and closure, since December 2016, of a public access stairway and trail system that provides public access down a steep coastal bluff in Pacifica. The violations also include unpermitted development activities including unauthorized grading, trenching, and the placement of large boulders, which occurred on the beach and coastal bluff. These actions have violated an existing public access easement required by a CDP for construction of adjacent residential properties.
The Commission reached a settlement with the properties at issue using their administrative penalties authority under Section 30821, requiring the violators to pay $1,450,000 into the Commission’s Violation Remediation Account as well as to restore public access and remove unpermitted development - including the large boulders on the beach.
The Surfrider Foundation and the California Coastal Protection Network both spoke in support of this order and the use of administrative penalties as measures to protect public access and restore the beach. As Susan Jordan of CCPN pointed out, this is a reminder that you have to be vigilant with coastal access.
Coastal Commission staff worked with the property owners to come to an agreement and therefore the cease and desist orders were consent-based. Commissioners unanimously approved the orders.
|City of Dana Point LCP Amendment - Strands Beach|| The City of Dana Point submitted an Local Coastal Plan (LCP) request to amend the Land Use Plan (LUP) to establish hours of operation for the Mid-Strand and Central Strand public beach accessways (5 a.m. to 10 p.m.) and to allow the issuance of a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) for the installation of retractable automated locking gates at the Mid-Strand and Central Strand public beach accessways to enforce the hours of operation. The LCP amendment also states that other accessways providing access to the beach, including the South Strand Switchback Trail, Strand Beach Park and the Strand Revetment Trail shall be open 24 hours per day.
Staff’s recommendation rejects the installation of gates and suggests, as an alternative to gates at the subject accessways, that the City could install simple single-strand ropes, or similar device (e.g. single chain), that can be draped across the accessways and hooked in a “closed” position during hours of closure and that will hang or be hooked in an open position at the accessways during hours of operation. A rope, along with the informational signage the City has proposed, will provide a less confrontational means of informing beach goers of when the accessways are available and not available for use by the public.
|City of San Diego Local Coastal Program Amendment Regarding Children’s Pool||The City of San Diego sought to revise public access and marine resource protection policies in its Land Use Plan (LUP) to allow a seasonal closure at Children’s Pool Beach in La Jolla during the Harbor Seal pupping season (from December 15 to May 15 of every year). The amendment provides special protection of the Children’s Pool seal population during pupping season. During the five-month closure period, beach access would be prohibited. However the breakwater surrounding the beach area would remain open throughout the year.|
|City of San Diego Secondary Treatment Waiver|| The City of San Diego submitted a consistency certification for the reissuance of its secondary treatment waiver for the municipal discharges from its Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). The waiver reissuance would be needed to allow San Diego to continue to discharge effluent receiving less than full secondary treatment in terms of total suspended solids (TSS) and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD). If no waiver were granted, the City would be required under the Clean Water Act to implement upgrades meeting secondary treatment requirements, which would mean removal of 85% of both TSS and BOD. With a waiver, CWA Section 301(h) and (j) require, among other things, removal of 80% of TSS and 58% of BOD.
Other coastal municipalities that had sought past waivers have now upgraded to secondary treatment. San Diego is pursuing a different approach: as an alternative to upgrading to secondary treatment, they propose to reduce wastewater flows to the plant, through water recycling, which then reduces flows (and pollutant loads) into the ocean.
On December 9, 2014, the City of San Diego expanded and updated its commitments to water reuse, in a Cooperative Agreement with San Diego Coastkeeper, the San Diego Chapter of Surfrider Foundation, the Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation, and the San Diego Audubon Society. This agreement commits San Diego to a compliance schedule for initially implementing at least 15 million gallons per day (MGD)of potable water reuse by end of 2023, at least 30 MGD by the end of 2027, and ultimately achieving at least 83 MGD of wastewater reuse by the end of 2035. The Regional Water Quality Control Board’s Order incorporates the City’s commitments to continue to pursue and implement its recycled water program, converting wastewater into potable water, under a program called “Pure Water San Diego.” The US EPA, San Diego Chamber of Commerce, Surfrider Foundation, San Diego Coastkeeper and Coast Law Group all testified in favor of the waiver.
A representative from the US EPA testified pointing out that the associated discharge empties into federal waters – thus prompting this agenda item. The EPA has the sole responsibility of acting on the waiver. They pointed out that the City has already met very stringent requirements that do not adversely effect the ocean environment. The performance of the facility has improved over the past 20 year and meets permitting authority requirements by a wide margin.
The opposition, Steve Ray, claimed that the same amount of wastewater would be discharged in 2050 than there is today, even with Pure Water, due to rapid population growth that will result in more wastewater discharges and therefore the waiver should not be granted.
During deliberation, Commissioner Shallenberger highlighted that Pure Water San Diego proves that “there is affordable technology that can truly answer water supply problems. We don’t need anything fancy or detrimental if we don’t want to” – apparently in reference to the benefits associated with wastewater recycling when compared to costly desalination and other similar infrastructure projects.
The waiver concurrence was approved unanimously.
|Civil Penalty Administration - the Lents|| A private residence immediately adjacent to Malibu Beach and with private beach access was issued a Cease and Desist Order and Administrative Civil Penalty due to a failure to comply with the CDP requirement to provide a public accessway through their property. The access point at issue sits in the middle of an approximate three-mile stretch of coastline across several Malibu beaches with no public access: the nearest currently open access is at Carbon Beach, 1.7 miles away.
Since 2002, the Lents have continued to maintain a private stairway, fence and gate, and deck that were constructed directly within the vertical public access easement and impedes the construction of a public accessway since they purchased the Property in 2002, and have knowingly refused to remove the development and resolve these Coastal Act violations since Commission staff notified them of the violations in 2007. The Lents have maintained the unpermitted development encroaching into the public easement and resisted all requests for the removal of those encroachments. Without this access point, Las Flores Beach is essentially privatized.
This is the Lents’ additional owned property, not primary residence, and has been used since at least 2002 as a temporary vacation rental and advertised on VRBO.com since at least 2007 and other websites for an average nightly rate of $1018 and up to $9,200 a week and $32,000 per month. They highlight beach access for visitors as one of the features of the home in their rental announcements. All the while they have knowingly maintained these private encroachments and used them for personal private beach access and financial gain.
|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.
|Consideration of Dismissal of the Executive Director|| Morro Bay was host to significant and dramatic events during the Wednesday, Feb. 10 Coastal Commission hearing, in which the fate of Executive Director Charles Lester was decided. An estimated 1,000 people turned out to support Dr. Lester's continued tenure with the Coastal Commission and to demand a transparent, responsible process.
After nearly a month of California citizens, organizations and legislators reaching out to both the Governor and to the Coastal Commission – resulting in over 20,000 letters submitted – and six hours of public comment at the hearing, Commissioners spent scant time on the issues raised. Instead, and in direct opposition to public demand, they refused to give their reasons for wanting to dismiss Dr. Lester, and the majority of Commissioners opted to vote behind closed doors.
|Crystal Cove State Beach Restoration|| The Crystal Cove Historic District is a beachfront community of 46 historic cottages (from 1930-40s) that at one time were leased as private residential vacation cottages. There is a long history of attempts to keep this area privatized. Through the collaborative efforts of the California Coastal Commission, State Parks and the Crystal Cove Alliance, this project would restore lower cost accommodations and public access to Crystal Cove.
The project proposal is primarily for the restoration of the last unrestored cottages remaining in the Historic District: the 17 cottages on North Beach.
While the project is not consistent with Coastal Act Section 30253(b) to avoid new development in hazardous locations and to not rely on protective devices that result in significant alteration of landforms such as bluffs, the Coastal Commission’s public access and recreation policies concurrently warrant approval of the proposed development.
The project uses Coastal Commission mitigation funds to establish new lower cost overnight accommodations. Cottage #20 is proposed as a dorm style cottage and would contain 11 beds, to be rented individually per bed. The proposal also includes establishment of an overnight educational program for approximately 200-300 under-served youth per year to have 2-night stays in Cottage #20 throughout the school year, using a portion of the mitigation funds held in an endowment for the program.
The Coastal Development Permit was approved unanimously.
|Crystal Cove State Park Interpretive Center||California State Parks proposed to remove an existing Interpretive Center from a parking lot at Crystal Cove State Park and build two new modular structures in Environmentally Sensitive Habitat.|
|Drakes Estero Wilderness Federal Consistency Determination|| The Point Reyes National Seashore (Seashore) submitted a consistency determination to the Commission to remove shellfish debris and infrastructure in Drakes Estero Wilderness area. The Seashore proposed to remove 95 pressure-treated wood racks spread across seven acres of the estuary, comprising between 200,000 and 250,000 board feet of lumber (approximately 470 tons) previously used to support mariculture operations.
The Seashore estimated that approximately 0.59 acres of eelgrass would be temporarily impacted by the restoration work. However, the restoration would remove so much debris and wooden structures that it is anticipated that 2.8 acres of eelgrass habitat would be created, resulting in a restoration ratio of 4.7:1. This is much higher than the typical restoration ratio of 1.2:1. The Commission staff’s analysis concluded that the Seashore’s restoration plan takes appropriate precautions to ensure the protection of biological resources and public access, to avoid harbor seal disturbance, to minimize the spread of non-native bio-fouling organisms, to prepare and adhere to an oil spill prevention and response plan, and to adhere to an anchoring plan that minimizes placement of anchoring devices in eelgrass.
|Dunes Development (Venice)|| This item is an appeal of a Coastal Development Permit approved by the City of Los Angeles to change a commercial retail space to a 2,831-sq.-foot restaurant. A key issue with this CDP is the lack of sufficient existing or proposed parking.
Staff recommended that the Commission determine substantial issue based on the project not being consistent with the parking requirements of the certified Land Use Plan (LUP). The lack of parking would adversely affect the public’s ability to access the coast. Additionally, approval of a development that worsens Venice’s current parking shortage in Venice will impair the City’s ability to prepare a certified LCP due to the project’s inconsistency with the LUP because it will generate increased parking demand and adversely impacts public access.
|Encinitas Blufftop Setback|| W20a, Martin Blufftop Home Redevelopment Setback
Application No. A-6-ENC-16-0060 (Martin, Encinitas)
Two vacant unarmored blufftop lots in Encinitas were proposed for consolidation and construction of a new two-story, 3,000-plus square foot home and basement with a 40-foot setback from the bluff edge. The City’s original permit was appealed and substantial issue was found in 2016. Coastal Commission staff recommended that this project only be approved with a redesign requiring a 79-foot setback and no basement component.
The City of Encinitas LCP indicated that blufftop development must be sited to be safe from erosion and bluff failure over its expected lifetime. Standard state engineer guidelines indicate a factor of safety of 1.5 for 75 years is appropriate for blufftop development. However, if the home is sited at a location to achieve a factor of safety of 1.5 today and there is any erosion, the home will immediately be below the established industry standard for safety - let alone over the next 75 years.
Staff’s recommendation appropriately adds the expected bluff retreat of 75 years, determined to be 39 feet by Coastal Commission staff, therefore requiring a total setback of 79 feet from the bluff edge to ensure safety of the blufftop home. Further, the staff recommendation prohibits a basement on this property. Removal of the basement in the future could significantly alter the bluffs natural state, which is also inconsistent with the LCP.
Finally, special condition 3 requires the applicant to waive the right to future armoring. Any new development must be sited so that it will neither be subject to nor contribute to significant geological instability throughout the life of the project.
Ultimately, Commissioners approved the staff recommendation with a 75-foot setback and no basement.
|Encinitas Lindstrom Development|| This project was appealed by Commissioners Mary Schallenberger and Esther Sanchez due to not conforming to the City of Encinitas’ certified Local Coastal Plan. The proposed project is a bluff top residential development. The permit for the development, approved by the City, would allow for a two-story home plus basement with only a 40-foot setback from the bluff edge and include the installation of piers along the bluff edge to support planter boxes and an above-ground spa.
Upon review by the Commission’s geologist, it was determined that the factor of safety was not accurately calculated. Most significantly, the erosion factor for the site is anticipated to be .49 feet per year rather than .4 feet per year, which means a setback of 60 to 62 feet is what’s actually required to protect the home.
|Encinitas New Blufftop Home (Hurst)||Coastal Commission staff recommended denial of a coastal development permit application to construct a new home in Encinitas. The application consisted of demolition of an existing home and construction of a significantly larger home including a basement on a blufftop lot. The proposed project is a new development in a location currently threatened by an actively eroding cliff that will be subject to increased wave attack with future sea level rise, which directly contradicts 30253(a) of the Coastal Act. Additionally, its safety would partially rely on an aging sea wall with only 4 years remaining in its design life - which directly contradicts 30253(b). The Surfrider Foundation supported staff’s recommendation of denial and the Commission unanimously agreed.|
|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.
|Eureka – Arcata Route 101 Corridor Improvement Project||Application in Humboldt County to increase safety at six intersections and to improve roadway in order to meet current design standards.|
|Fred Segal Foundation Cease and Desist and Restoration Orders|| Since the purchase of the property in the early 1980s, the Fred Segal Foundation property has had a number of unpermitted developments including: the unpermitted subdivision of the lot; unpermitted placement of structures and infrastructure; removal of vegetation and more. This is significant as a large portion of the area is environmentally sensitive habitat area, and the development has resulted in the clearance of and impacts to sensitive habitat in the Santa Monica Mountains.
In the late 80s, an enforcement action was initiated by Staff, which resulted in the issuance of a CDP to address the violations and accommodate potential future development. However, additional unpermitted development occurred outside the permitted area. The CDP additionally required dedicated open space easements to protect the watershed and wildlife corridors and these areas would cover the entirety of the property with the exception of the specified development areas. Again, however, unpermitted development occurred within the easements.
Commission Staff were notified by LA County of development and, in response, sent a notice of violation letter in 2010. Again, the opportunity to resolve the issue through a CDP was offered, but the applicant did not complete the CDP application and thus another notice of violation was sent in 2011.
A Consent Cease and Desist Order was issued in 2012 for the western three properties, and the remaining unpermitted development is addressed by this Consent Order.
|Gaviota Coast Plan|| F16a Gaviota Coast Plan
County of Santa Barbara LCP Amendment No. LCP-4-STB-18-0039-1 Part B (Gaviota Coast Plan)
The proposed Gaviota Coast Plan will function as a new stand-alone area plan in the County’s LCP. The plan covers several important topics including environmentally sensitive habitat areas (ESHA), agriculture, principle permitted uses and public access and recreation.
The Environmental Defense Center participated in the development of the plan for many years to ensure maximum environmental protections. “Through the Coastal Commission process, the Gaviota Coast Plan has been improved to provide better protection for wildlife and habitats, agriculture, public access and recreation, and cultural resources,” said Linda Krop, Chief Counsel of the Environmental Defense Center. “The Plan provides a vision to retain the unique scenic, rural nature of the Gaviota Coast for years to come. We will urge the County of Santa Barbara to accept the Commission’s recommended improvements when the matter is considered later this fall.”
The Plan, as proposed and modified by Coastal Commission staff, includes important modifications with relation to blufftop development and public access. The Surfrider Foundation strongly supported the policies that address bluff top development and ensure consistency with the Coastal Resiliency Project. Further, Surfrider supported the Plan’s public access policies. There is a great need for more vertical access opportunities and the plan as modified sets the intention toward that goal. Specifically, staff recommended modifications that new development does not interfere with the public’s right to beach access – and that without the “if feasible” loophole. The Plan also protects informal roadside parking. Such parking areas are integral to ensuring safe, equitable access to area beaches.
A few discrepancies remained between the County of Santa Barbara and Coastal Commission staff at the time of the hearing. Specifically, the County wanted to retain autonomy over determining ESHA buzzer zones for new development. Commissioners unanimously approved the Gaviota Coast Plan with one small caveat that facilities at El Capitan Campground can be repaired and maintained without an increase in ESHA buffer zone.
|Gaviota State Beach Pier Repair||The California Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks) submitted a coastal development permit for the repair and reconstruction of the pier at Gaviota State Park as well as the installation of a rip-rap seawall. The Gaviota pier provided the only public boat launch facility used to access Hollister and Bixby Ranches, which are otherwise inaccessible. The staff recommendation approved the pier rebuild, however prohibited the riprap seawall, instead requiring State Parks to design the landward portion of the pier with a metal grated material to avoid the need for a seawall. State Parks claims that option is feasible; however the agency opposed the recommendation due to financial concerns. The Surfrider Foundation strongly supported the staff recommendation, citing the potential for sensitive habitat impacts within the Kashayit Marine Conservation Area and unmitigated public access impacts.|
|Gordon Encinitas Staircase||Appeal by Commissioners Mitchell and Brennan of CDP issued by the City of Encinitas to applicant that would include retention and removal of portions of an unpermitted private stairway leading from the blufftop to the beach; replacement of unpermitted railroad ties on the bluff face, and construction of a retractable staircase on the upper bluff.|
|Hitzke Mixed-Use Development||The permit application was for construction of a mixed-use building including commercial office space, 10 low-income housing units, and improvements to parking, landscaping, and sidewalk.|
|Hollister Ranch Parcel 36 Appeal||Commissioners Carole Groom and Steve Padilla appealed a Santa Barbara County approved coastal development permit for the construction of a swimming pool and in-ground spa on Parcel No. 36 on Hollister Ranch. The parcel contains an existing home, guest house and barn. This appeal is part of an ongoing effort to restore long overdue public access to the coast at Hollister Ranch. Staff recommended approval of the development with the condition that a $5,000 public access in-lieu fee be assessed – one that the County did not assess based on their interpretation that it only need be applied per parcel, rather than per permit, as intended in Coastal Act sections 30610.3 and 30610.8. The Gaviota Coastal Trail Alliance urged the Commission to deny this development on the grounds that the $5,000 fee is insufficient to find the development consistent with the Coastal Act. The County’s local coastal program prohibits new development in Hollister Ranch unless public access is provided. The Commission unanimously agreed and denied the permit on the basis that it was inconsistent with the Coastal Act and Santa Barbara County LCP’s public access provisions. With this action, the Commission sent the message that until public access is provided at Hollister Ranch, new development is not allowed.|
|Hueneme Beach Sediment Deposition|| The Oxnard Harbor District, as part of the Port of Hueneme Deepening Project, proposed to place 30,000 cubic yards of sediment dredged from the Port of Hueneme at two sites that have been identified to receive the dredged material. The first site is an approximately 9-acre area of Hueneme Beach that is located immediately seaward of the Port, and the second site is an approximately 27-acre nearshore area that is located adjacent to Hueneme Beach. Staff recommended approval of the proposal with special conditions to protect sensitive species, water quality and public access, noting that initial sampling found the sediment consistent with environmental thresholds.
The Surfrider Foundation Ventura County Chapter expressed opposition on two accounts. First, the dredged material is not entirely non-toxic and deposits of more toxic sediment may end up on a beach where children play and sensitive species reside. Second, the dredges material is made up of 25% fine sediments which will result in poor water quality and high turbidity, which is dangerous for swimmers and impacts the surfing wave because it will create a steep beach face. Surfrider asked that the sediment be placed entirely offshore and not directly on the beach.
Commissioners agreed to err on the side of caution and prohibit the sediment from being placed on Hueneme Beach and amended the staff recommendation as such. The motion passed unanimously.
|Huntington Beach Poseidon Desalination Proposal||Poseidon Water proposed to build a 50 million gallon per day (MGD) seawater desalination plant to be co-located with the AES Power Plant in Huntington Beach. The plan would be equivalent in size to the largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere. The plant would use an open ocean intake to withdraw more than 100 MGD from the state’s coastal waters, as well as an open ocean discharge pipe to dispose of concentrated brine and various chemical pollutants.|
|Illegal Seawall Laguna Beach|| Th 8 & 9 Illegal Seawall at 11 Lagunita - Cease and Desist Order
Cease and Desist Order CCC-18-CD-02 and Administrative Penalty CCC-18-AP-02 As documented in the staff report, the property owners have engaged in extensive unpermitted rebuilding of their private residence. The extent of building is such that it constitutes new development, which means it is no longer entitled to a seawall under the California Coastal Act according to section 30235. The existing seawall was only permitted to protect the then-existing, Pre-Coastal Act structure based in the owners’ assertion that they would only proceed with a minor remodel. Subsequently, and in violation of the conditions of the permit, the existing house was torn down to the barest frame (as clearly evidenced by the photos in Exhibit 1) and then rebuilt. As a result, it cannot be accurately described as a “remodel” by any stretch and thus no longer qualifies for a seawall.
The homeowners claimed that the construction was a minor remodel and does not constitute new development. However, Coastal Commission staff presented extensive evidence that prove the home underwent a nearly 100% remodel. Therefore, Coastal Commission staff recommended that the now-illegal seawall be removed and the owners of the unpermitted structure be required to comply with setback and coastal hazard requirements.
The Coastal Commission staff recommended levying an administrative fine of $500,000, much less than the $8 million maximum fine the Commission could levy and more than reasonable given the amount of public resources and staff time the homeowners have utilized in attempting to evade state law.
The Coastal Commission ultimately approved the cease and desist orders which require the property owner to remove the seawall within 60 days and return for a coastal development permit for the extensive unpermitted redevelopment of the home. Further, they increased the administrative fine to $1 million citing the well documented willful disregard of the Coastal Act, the extensive use of public resources to resolve the violation and coastal resource impacts.
|La Jolla Public Access - Kretowicz|| The Coastal Commission reviewed a permit amendment to replace decorative paving currently within the City of La Jolla’s Princess Street public right-of-way with new granite porcelain tiles and signage identifying public access to the pocket beach.
The existing paving material was originally placed in the Princess Street cul-de-sac public right-of-way without benefit of a coastal development permit (CDP), but it was subsequently approved after-the-fact by the Commission in a previous CDP amendment. The existing decorative pavement raises concerns that create the illusion of a private driveway and deter public access to the existing vertical easement and accessway.
The staff recommendation takes into account that decorative pavement was previously approved at this location. Special conditions include additional signage of the vertical accessway, street markings that help to indicate this area as a public right-of-way and a no parking sign within the cul-de-sac.
Additionally, there is an existing vertical access easement on the applicant’s property that starts next to the cul-de-sac and leads down to a public pocket beach, and a stairway to make this vertical access easier for the public to use is currently in the planning stages by a the Environmental Center of San Diego (ECO San Diego).
Commissioners voted 11-1 to approve the staff recommendation.
|Laguna Beach Parking Program|| This item was an appeal of the City of Laguna Beach permit to establish a multi-year, multi-phase parking rate increase for public meters and public and private lots located citywide including increases of up to 50% over three years for all downtown meters and metered lots, many of which are used for coastal access.
The Coastal Commission’s staff report recommended approval with modifications limiting the rate increases. The staff report also acknowledges that even with the limitations, approval of the program disproportionately impacts individuals from low income communities, whose primary option would be to park on the outskirts of the city and use the City of Laguna Beach’s Trolley services. However, the staff report fails to sufficiently account for the fact that the Laguna Beach Trolley Services are indefinitely closed due to COVID-19 concerns.
Due to this concern, as well as disproportionate impacts on individuals of low income communities ability to access the coast near Laguna Beach, the Commission denied the City’s proposed parking program.
|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.
|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.