Property

BlogText

From ActCoastal

This is a property of type Text.

Pages using the property "BlogText"

Showing 25 pages using this property.

(previous 25) (next 25)

2

2015 Annual Coastal Commission Vote Chart: A Summary +For over 20 years, coastal advocates have been producing an annual vote chart of the state’s most powerful land use agency – the California Coastal Commission. Coastal Commissioners and staff are tasked with upholding the primary mandate of the California Coastal Act of 1976: '''to permanently protect the California coast, our “distinct and valuable natural resource of vital and enduring interest to all people and exists as a delicately balanced ecosystem.”''' This "annual report card" coalesced in 2013 with the formation of ActCoastal, a collaboration between the Surfrider Foundation, WILDCOAST and Environment California. ActCoastal reviews the most significant items from each Commission meeting and records each Commissioner's votes as “positive” or “negative” based on anticipated impacts to coastal resources and potential to set statewide precedent. Over time, this provides a historical record of how well Commissioners are upholding California’s landmark legislation, the Coastal Act. In 2015, in a series of important and controversial decisions, Commissioners weighed in on impacts of private development on public trust lands and beach access, and protection of special places including Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas (ESHA). '''The average conservation score for the Coastal Commission in 2015 was 47 percent''', down from an overall score of 71 percent in 2014. These low scores recorded in 2015 are indicative of a larger problem: A Commission regularly voting against the interest of our public coastal resources. '''The California Coastal Commission is clearly headed in the wrong direction, failing to adequately protect our coast and risking the public access rights promised to all Californians'''. Governor appointments resulted in the most votes against the coast with an average score of only 35 percent, down from 66 percent in 2014. Commissioner McClure scored a dismal 32 percent, Commissioners Mitchell and Turnbull-Sanders both scored only 33 percent and Commissioner Howell scored 42 percent. Senate Rules Committee appointments had the most positive votes for the coast with an average score of 57.5 percent, but still a notable drop from 2014’s average of 81 percent. Commissioner Mary Shallenberger achieved the most coastal-minded score of 74 percent, Chair Steve Kinsey scored 56 percent, and Commissioners Dayna Bochco and Roberto Uranga both scored 50 percent. Appointments by the Assembly Speaker scored 51.5 percent on average, a decline from 70 percent in 2014. Commissioner Carole Groom scored 68 percent, Commissioner Mary Luévano scored 67 percent, Commissioner Mark Vargas scored 39 percent and Commissioner Gregory Cox rated only 32 percent. [[File:Updated 2015 vote chart 2.png|frame|50px|center]] View past vote charts [[Meetings|here]]. <small><small>*This page has been updated.</small></small>  +
2017 California Coastal Commission Conservation Report Card +'''About the 2017 California Coastal Commission Conservation Report Card''' The annual California Coastal Commission Conservation Report Card focuses on high stakes coastal projects and concerns. When it comes to coastal development, the interests of private parties are often pitted against the public values enshrined in California’s Coastal Act. At times, these conflicts place Commissioners under intense political pressure. Transparency and accountability are therefore essential to ensure the Commission is upholding the Coastal Act and defending the public’s rights. The California Coastal Commission Conservation Report Card is designed to help provide both.<br> Using the Coastal Act as a guide, the 2017 California Coastal Commission Conservation Report Card ranks the voting record of each Coastal Commissioner on the most significant permit applications and enforcement actions considered by the Commission. The score represents the ratio of pro-conservation votes to total votes cast in the selected agenda items chosen by ActCoastal member organizations and other community advocates based on the following:<br> * A vote’s potential impacts on critical coastal resources or values, such as environmentally sensitive habitat or public access; * A vote’s potential economic value and impacts on the communities that would be affected by the vote; and * A vote’s potential to set statewide precedent. This report provides detailed descriptions of the issues and resources affected by each 2017 vote, as well as the voting record of each individual Commissioner and his or her alternate. [http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/Meetings Click here for past Vote Charts]. These voting records have been compared with the official records kept by the Coastal Commission; however, any errors are the sole responsibility of the preparers. ---- The average 2017 conservation score for the California Coastal Commission overall was 73%, up from 65% in 2016 and 47% in 2015, but below the Commission’s all-time high score of 76% in 1997. '''''Individual Commissioner Scores''''' [[File:Updated 2017 Report Card.png]] '''''A Comparison of Scores by Appointing Body''''' '''Senate Rules Committee appointments (81%)''' * Sara Aminzadeh – 100%* * Aaron Peskin – 82% * Dayna Bochco – 75% * Roberto Uranga – 67% '''Assembly Speaker appointments: (72%, up from 64% in 2016)''' * Mary Luévano – 85% * Carole Groom – 81% * Mark Vargas – 72% * Steve Padilla – 50%* '''Governor-appointed commissioners (66%)''' * Effie Turnbull-Sanders – 76% * Donne Brownsey – 69% * Erik Howell – 68% * Ryan Sundberg – 50% ''(* New Commissioner serving six months or fewer in 2017)'' [http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/Meetings Click here for past Vote Charts]. ---- '''Commission Turnover''' Due to a combination of election losses, term expirations and a resignation, 2017 saw an unusual amount of turnover on the Commission with five new commissioners sworn in (and two reappointments). '''''February'''''<br> Governor Jerry Brown selected '''Donne Brownsey''' of Fort Bragg to replace Coastal Commissioner Wendy Mitchell of Los Angeles, who resigned in late 2016 in the midst of alleged undisclosed meetings with developers, a violation of transparency rules. Governor Brown also selected incumbent Coastal Commissioner '''Effie Turnbull-Sanders''' to be the panel’s environmental justice representative — a position created by legislation in September 2016. '''''March'''''<br> Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León appointed San Francisco Supervisor '''Aaron Peskin''' to fill the commission seat of former Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey, who retired from public office. Governor Brown selected '''Ryan Sundberg''', a member of the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors since 2010, to replace Martha McClure, who was forced to leave the commission because she was not reelected to the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors last November. '''''June'''''<br> Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon appointed Chula Vista City Councilmember '''Steve Padilla''' to the Coastal Commission to replace San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox, whose term expired. He also reappointed Commissioner Carole Groom, a member of the San Mateo County Supervisors. '''''September'''''<br> Senate Pro Tem de Léon appointed '''Sara Aminzadeh''', Executive Director of the California Coastkeeper Alliance, to fill a public seat.<br> '''''Moving forward'''''<br> This all followed a particularly tumultuous time in the Commission’s history. In 2016, the panel fired the agency’s then-executive director Charles Lester against massive public outcry and despite the opposition of state and federal legislators, scientists and academics, and over 90 of Lester’s own staff. The firing brought the Commission under increased media scrutiny and renewed public interest in the agency. A year later, the Commission selected Jack Ainsworth, a career agency official who had been acting as interim director, to replace Lester.<br> The new appointments ushered in in a substantially different dynamic than that of the panel that fired Lester, and an improvement is apparent in 2017 with 16 “good” conservation outcomes and only 5 “bad” conservation outcomes. The theme of coastal access, including 10 votes on shoreline armoring issues, continued to prevail. ---- '''Coastal Preservation and Access''' Both the California Constitution and the Coastal Act establish the right for all Californians to access the shore. Ensuring this right for all Californians requires recognizing a growing and diversifying coastal population, continued development pressure and, increasingly, sea level rise and coastal hazards. In 2017, the Coastal Commission took several important actions to preserve public land and public resources. Preservation is an access issue at heart, given that public land such as beaches, coastal trails and parks must continue to exist for access to remain possible. Examples include: the shutdown of the [http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/July_Hearing_Report CEMEX sand mine], the rejection of a permit to develop [http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/February_Hearing_Report Newport Banning Ranch], the restoration of [http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/March_Hearing_Report Crystal Cove State Park], the dedication of 36 acres of [http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/November_Hearing_Report Cojo Jalama Ranch] to Santa Barbara County, and the protection of ESHA at [http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/November_Hearing_Report Lawson’s Landing]. '''''Examples of Positive Coastal Preservation Outcomes''''' '''''July'''''<br> In July, a much-anticipated violation case came before the California Coastal Commission. Monterey Coast residents had long argued that CEMEX’s sand mine was the reason their coastline has been eroding faster than anywhere else in the state. In March 2016, after years of urging by community members and the accumulation of scientific evidence, the Coastal Commission’s enforcement division informed CEMEX that a cease-and-desist order was imminent. Settlement discussions between the sand mining corporation and Commission staff followed and, after much negotiation, a settlement was reached. The agreement requires that CEMEX cease sand mining on the property after three years, prevents any increase in mining during that time, binds CEMEX to full restoration of the property, and ensures that the property be transferred to a public or nonprofit agency for management upon closure of the mine. Commissioners unanimously approved the settlement and thus marked a momentous and historic decision in support of coastal protection.[https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/06/27/controversial-beachfront-sand-mining-operation-along-monterey-bay-to-close/ Controversial Beachfront Sand Mining Operation Along Monterey Bay to Close] '''''December'''''<br> Years of enforcement negotiations regarding unpermitted development activities on the Cojo and Jalama Ranches, which occupy an 11-mile swath of coastline on either side of Point Conception in Santa Barbara County, resulted in a remarkable win for the public. As part of the settlement, the owners (an investment group that include Boston-based hedge fund the Baupost Group) were required to transfer approximately 36 acres of coastal property south of Jalama Beach to Santa Barbara’s County Parks to expand the campground and park area, and to pay $500,000 to the Commission’s “violation remediation account.” [http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-conservancy-purchase-20171221-story.html Couple donates $165 million to preserve 24,000 acres at Point Conception] '''Coastal Armoring''' In addition to coastal preservation, shoreline armoring persisted as a major public access issue in 2017. Study after study arrives at the same conclusion: a significant percentage of California’s beaches will disappear due to sea level rise and climate change effects in the coming decades. [http://www.delmartimes.net/news/sd-cm-nc-sea-levels-20180502-story.html Will rising seas eventually devour California's beachfront homes?] As a result, private property owners and municipalities continue to turn to hard armoring to protect homes and infrastructure, despite the fact that fixed structures (rocks, walls, revetments) on the shoreline increase the rate of coastal erosion, in turn leading to the loss of sandy beach, destruction of habitat and adverse impacts to nearshore recreational resources. In August, Commission staff released draft [https://www.coastal.ca.gov/climate/slr/vulnerability-adaptation/residential/ Residential Adaptation Guidelines] for local governments struggling to address the challenges and impacts of sea level rise. Residential development is one of the most prevalent types of development within the coastal zone and also poses one of the most controversial management challenges, making the Guidance extremely important in advancing sea level rise adaptation: In order to protect public access, we must prolong the life of our beaches, not hasten their end. Therefore, the Commission needs to improve coastal armoring policies and practices by certifying the Residential Adaptation Guidelines and incorporating these into their permitting decisions. The Commission will consider final guidelines for approval in 2018. Commissioners considered several armoring throughout the year, provoking much discussion on the dais. At the December hearing on a vote to deny an armoring project in Solana Beach, Commissioner Aaron Peskin acknowledged approving the project would move forward obtrusive shoreline armoring practices while Commissioner Mary Luevano observed that the state doesn’t have much time to adapt to sea level rise. In November, Commissioner Mark Vargas voted against shoreline armoring at Sharp Park Golf Course in San Francisco, saying that it is time to start taking seriously the Commission’s 2015 Sea Level Rise Guidance , which concludes that armoring is not a viable strategy for climate change adaptation. “A seawall is a seawall is a seawall,” Vargas said. While the conversation regarding shoreline armoring, the importance of planning for sea level rise and the need to have the guidance codified in the form of regulations has advanced, this is still not consistently reflected in the Commission’s votes. One of the most egregious problems is that of approving after-the-fact authorizations of previously illegally constructed shoreline armoring structures. By allowing originally unpermitted development to remain permanent, the Commission effectively ratifies negative impacts to public access and perpetuates unsustainable climate adaptation strategies. '''''Examples of Negative Coastal Armoring Outcomes''''' '''''February'''''<br> This permit amendment revised the special conditions for [http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/February_Hearing_Report a 256-foot shoreline armoring structure in Solana Beach] previously approved by the Commission in 2010. The armoring was originally permitted for 20 years to protect pre-Coastal Act development, but the amendment now authorizes the seawall and concrete backfill for the life of the bluff top homes. This removes the opportunity for a future Commission to reevaluate the seawall as sea level rise and beach erosion increase over time.  '''''September'''''<br> The Commission voted to [http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/September_Hearing_Report approve new seawall construction in Del Mar] in place of shoreline armoring first installed illegally in 1987 and then expanded under an emergency permit in 2015, missing a chance to set an important precedent on interim seawall policy. '''''November'''''<br> Despite years of documented Coastal Act violations including the illegal expansion of a sand berm, [http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/November_Hearing_Report the Commission voted to approve San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department’s application to retain armoring at Sharp Park in order to protect Sharp Park Golf Course], sacrificing access to and along the beach in the name of protecting access “near” the beach. ---- Coastal Commission votes are also monitored and reviewed on a monthly basis. Monthly Vote Charts and descriptions of key votes are provided for public review at [http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/Meetings ActCoastal.org]. The ActCoastal Vote Chart is produced by [https://www.surfrider.org Surfrider Foundation], [http://wildcoast.org WiLDCOAST/COSTASALVAjE] and [https://environmentcalifornia.org/sites/environment/files/cpn/AMN-042418-A1/index-coastal.html Environment California], in cooperation with ActCoastal and California’s conservation community. ---- '''Coastal Commission background''' The [https://www.coastal.ca.gov California Coastal Commission] is an independent state agency originally created by citizen initiative in 1972 and made permanent by the California Coastal Act of 1976. The Commission’s mission is to protect, conserve, restore, and enhance environmental and human resources of the California coast and ocean for environmentally sustainable and prudent use by current and future generations. The Commission is comprised of 12 voting members (and up to 12 alternates) appointed by the Governor, Senate Rules Committee and Assembly Speaker. Each appoints four commissioners, two from the general public and two from among local elected officials. The elected commissioners must be representative of the state’s six regions ranging from San Diego to the North Coast. The Commission meets monthly and reviews up to 1,000 projects a year.  +

A

A Ticking Time Bomb Underneath the Ballona Wetlands +[[File:ProtectPlayaNow-1 copy.jpg]] The SoCalGas Playa del Rey methane storage facility sits on top of and immediately adjacent to the Ballona Wetlands. Just like the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility, it is a ticking time bomb nestled next to hundreds of thousands of residents. Both facilities are mostly depleted oil fields that were repurposed as methane storage fields. In the case of the Playa del Rey field, it was turned into gas storage in 1943 and operates with a conditional use permit since the 1950s. It is a regular occurrence to smell hydrocarbons in the area and to have homes and cars covered with an oily mist, a combination of the remnants of the oil from the wells along with the other toxic substances. The facility has had accidents, most recently in January of [https://argonautnews.com/the-long-shadow-of-aliso-canyon/ 2013 an explosion that produced a flare] that could be seen all the way to Malibu. Protect Playa Now, a coalition of concerned residents, has been looking into recent activity and emergency plans only to find out that SoCalGas usually adds equipment or maintenance wells before filing for the required permits and the fire department has no emergency plan or evacuation plan for the 500,000 people near the facility, including LAX international airport, one of the busiest in the nation. The Coastal Commission has the authority to investigate the conditional use permit and to demand a sensible emergency plan, which is especially important after the massive blowout of the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility in 2015. That was only one well, and there are thirty four like them at Playa del Rey. Some of the Playa del Rey residents have been complaining from the same health symptoms as the residents in Porter Ranch near Aliso Canyon, and the current impact to flora and fauna is unknown, but the Ballona Institute has called repeatedly for authorities to study these impacts. Moreover, the prevailing winds carry over the toxins east, to lower-income communities like Del Rey and all the way to already overburdened areas like East L.A. The most recent gas blowout of an oil well near the Playa del Rey field happened just weeks ago, on January 11. It took one week for the community to be notified. Few saw the blowout. However, a resident [https://laist.com/2019/01/23/marina_del_rey_oil_well_blowout.php?_ga=2.82131601.62193911.1549921438-1688704811.1549130794 captured a video] of it, and in so doing showed a worker trying to get out. The footage is riveting. While the jury is still out on who is responsible for the well, two things are very clear: the current set of regulations is not working, and we are just lucky no one happened to be smoking nearby or had any other source of fire. But we cannot rely on luck to ensure the safety of over 500,000 people in its proximity. It is time for the Coastal Commission to do its part and ensure the families who live next to this dangerous facility are safe. [[File:PlayaDelRey copy.jpg|frameless]]  +
AB 250 Coastal Cabin Bill Moves Forward +For immediate release: March 20, 2017 Contact: Nicole Lampe, Resource Media, 415-341-4521 Coastal cabin bill sails through Assembly Natural Resources Committee AB 250 Would Expand Coastal Access by Providing More Affordable Lodging Sacramento, CA – Today, Assembly Bill 250 (AB 250), sponsored by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, passed out of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee with a 7-1 vote. AB 250 would help Californians of all incomes and backgrounds access the coast by increasing the supply of cabins and other lower-cost overnight accommodations. Coastal access is guaranteed to all Californians by the state constitution and the 1972 Coastal Act, but rising costs are making it difficult for some families to visit the public beaches and parks along the state’s 1,100 mile coastline. The Coastal Act requires “Lower cost visitor and recreational facilities be protected, encouraged, and, where feasible, provided,” but current efforts are not keeping pace with the need. “Everyone deserves a chance to play in the sand, and breathe fresh salt air. But rising hotel costs are pricing many California families out of the chance to experience these simple pleasures,” said Marce Gutierrez-Graudins of Azul. “I thank Assembly Member Gonzalez Fletcher for her leadership to make sure this democratic commons is truly accessible to all Californians.” A [https://www.ioes.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/UCLA-Coastal-Access-Policy-Report.pdf recent study] by the UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability identified the rising cost of overnight stays as a significant barrier to coastal access. In a [https://www.ioes.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Field-Poll_IoES-Press-Release.pdf statewide poll], UCLA found that 75 percent of respondents identified a lack of affordable places to stay as a problem, especially those who must travel from places like the Central Valley or Inland Empire. A [https://documents.coastal.ca.gov/reports/2016/11/th6-11-2016.pdf 2016 Coastal Commission study] found that 24,720 coastal economy rooms have been lost since 1989, and now comprise only 5 percent of available lodging. The Commission’s study found that the average cost of a coastal economy room during the summer ranges from $135 to $260 a night, far more than many Californians are willing or able to pay. AB 250 would establish a program at the State Coastal Conservancy for proactively investing in projects to build affordable cabins, hostels, and campsites at state and local parks and other publicly owned lands. It would also authorize the Conservancy to create a pilot program to test ways of making privately owned coastal accommodations more affordable, in partnership with willing owners of privately owned hotels, motels, and other accommodations. The Conservancy’s program would focus on making supported projects available to low-income and middle-income families, as well as to nonprofits and public entities that provide young or at-risk populations with education, service learning, and similar outdoor opportunities. Projects could be supported by funding from a variety of sources, including philanthropic funds and other private sources. “In my role at Outdoor Outreach, I have seen time and again how life changing a visit to the coast can be for kids,” said Ben McCue of Outdoor Outreach. “There are opportunities for applied science, learning, and service, of course, but it’s the sense of wonder that stays with people. I appreciate Assembly Member Gonzalez Fletcher’s efforts to make sure every kid in California has a chance to experience that wonder.”  +
Access At Long Last: Strands Beach Access Settlement Agreement Affords Ample Public Access +Surfrider Foundation celebrates the resolution of a six-year battle for beach access at Dana Point Strands Beach. The City of Dana Point has been embroiled in litigation with Surfrider Foundation and the California Coastal Commission since 2010. The [http://documents.coastal.ca.gov/reports/2016/4/f7.5-4-2016.pdf recent Settlement Agreement] between the City and the Coastal Commission lifts the restrictive beach access hours and demands unrestricted accessways throughout the property. The Settlement Agreement has been signed by the City, but will have to be approved by the Coastal Commission at the April meeting before it is signed by Jack Ainsworth, acting Executive Director of the Coastal Commission. Surfrider originally sued the City of Dana Point, and developer Headlands LLC as the Real Party in Interest, for their actions to take away the public’s beach access. Surfrider’s suit challenged the City’s “urgency ordinance” declaring existence of a nuisance at Strands Beach in order to mandate the enforcement of restrictive closure hours and gates for Central and Mid-Strands Accessways. [http://www.surfrider.org/coastal-blog/entry/tearing-down-walls-beach-access-litigation-victory-at-dana-point-strands-be Surfrider won its case at the lower court in 2011], with a ruling that held the City’s actions were “arbitrary and capricious”. In the most recent court ruling, Judge Randa Trapp ruled that the [http://www.surfrider.org/coastal-blog/entry/court-rules-city-of-dana-point-acted-with-pretext-in-blocking-beach-access City acted with “pretext”] in issuing the urgency nuisance ordinance as the original justification for the beach access restrictions at Strands Beach. There have been various appeals and delays that have kept the litigation active until this settlement. The terms of the Settlement Agreement provide the ample beach access that Surfrider has been requesting throughout this battle. In addition, the City has agreed to up to $300,000 worth of mitigation to settle the years of Coastal Act violations that this beach access issue has implicated. Here are more specifics about the terms: [[File:strands.jpg|thumb|right]] First and foremost, the agreement settles the hours and gates on the controversial Central and Mid-Strands access ways. The settlement ensures that there will be access from 5am until 10pm on the Mid-Strand and Central Strand accessways, which were at the heart of the controversy. Also, the gate at the Mid-Strand accessway must be either removed altogether or locked open 24 hours a day with the wire mesh and spikes at the top of the gates removed. The settlement also guarantees public access on the South Strand Switchback Trail and on the lower Strand Revetment Walkway to be open for 24 hours a day. The Strand Vista Park will be open from 5am to 10pm, as well. The City will delete its prior approval of gates on the Mid-Strand and Central Strand Beach Access, but may go before the Commission to seek a Local Coastal Plan Amendment for the gates. As for other mitigation to settle the years of ongoing Coastal Act violations, while not admitting to the violations, the City agreed to the following: - Construction of two more connector trails, the “Trail Connection to Selva” and the “Trail Loop Connection” for access and a public view overlook platform; - Installation of two new bike racks at the top of the Mid-Strand Accessway and the top of the South Strand Switchback Trail and install six cement-cast benches along the Revetment Trail; - Development of a mobile applications linkage to Coastal Commission beach access and public amenity information, as well as enhancement of the Commission’s web-based application. - The CCC is requiring additional signage, including two informative signs regarding coastal issues, five coastal access signs and four wayfinding signs; - At least $25,000 per year for six years to fund an educational program in conjunction with Surfrider Foundation at the Ocean Institute, with the objective of providing children from Southern California, and in particular from Title 1 schools, with learning opportunities relating to public access and marine conservation at Strands Beach, such as the impacts on coastal resources associated with global warming, sea level rise, and marine debris. Finally, the City agrees to dismiss their appeal of Surfrider’s case that has been stayed at the [http://www.surfrider.org/press-center/entry/appellate-court-upholds-beach-access-in-dana-point appellate court] after the City’s appeal of the decision for Surfrider in 2011. The City will also dismiss their suit against the Coastal Commission, which it brought against the Commission in May of 2010, challenging the Commission’s exercise of appellate jurisdiction to review the City’s bogus nuisance claim. The City would also invalidate the underlying urgency nuisance ordinance that it used to allow for the gates and restrictive hours originally. The Surfrider Foundation will support this Settlement Agreement for signature at the April Coastal Commission hearing and, if passed, consider it a victory for our long-fought battle for beach access at Dana Point Strands Beach.  +
Advocates Release Annual Coastal Commission Vote Chart +[[File:CCC2014VoteChart.png|600px|frameless|center]] Today the Surfrider Foundation, WiLDCOAST/COSTASALVAjE and Environment California, in cooperation with ActCoastal and California’s conservation community, release the 2014 California Coastal Commission Conservation Vote Chart. The Vote Chart monitors the annual performance of the Coastal Commission, the state’s most powerful land use agency, by tracking conservation votes cast by individual commissioners. Votes were selected for review based on their anticipated impacts to coastal resources and their potential to set statewide precedent. For 2014, the average conservation score for the entire Coastal Commission was 71%. Commissioners appointed as members of the public had higher conservation scores (72%) than did commissioners appointed from local government seats (71%), as has historically been the trend. Among the six “public” commissioners, Mary Shallenberger had the highest score (94%), while Mark Vargas had the lowest (53%). Among the six “local government” commissioners, former City Councilperson, Brian Brennan scored the highest (100%), while Supervisor Martha McClure scored the lowest (59%). It should be noted that Brennan only cast two votes before leaving the Commission because he was no longer an elected official and could not continue to serve in a local elected seat. Commissioners appointed by the Senate Rules Committee (81%) significantly outperformed commissioners appointed by the Assembly Speaker (68%) or the Governor (66%). “These votes determine the future of our coast. As issues like sea level rise and loss of beach access continue to grow in importance, it is imperative the entire Commission focus more rigorously on long-term protection of coastal resources and public access. It is of concern that the Governor’s and Assembly Speaker’s appointments produced below average scores, and we truly hope they improve this trend in future years,” said Stefanie Sekich-Quinn of Surfrider Foundation. “The California Coastal Commission is charged with protecting the California coast to ensure everyone can access and enjoy it. We were pleased the Commission voted to preserve low cost accommodations and housing during 2014. It is important the Commission votes on behalf of all communities that reflect California diverse make-up, and who might be presently under-represented,” said Zach Plopper of WiLDCOAST/COSTASALVAjE. “Considering the Commission is mandated to protect 1,100 miles of coastline, we hope to see improved voting and better appointments in the future to ensure our precious coastline is preserved for generations to come. California has a worldwide reputation for progressive and sustainable coastal planning and it’s fundamental the Commission maintain this important standing,” concluded Dan Jacobson of Environment California. View the 2014 California Coastal Commission Conservation Voting Chart here. The ActCoastal Coalition publishes a monthly vote chart and provides a record of past years’ charts. View the 2014 California Coastal Commission Conservation Voting Chart [http://www.surfrider.org/2014CCCVoteChart here] The ActCoastal Coalition publishes a monthly vote chart and provides a record of past years’ charts. <center>###</center> '''About Surfrider Foundation''' The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains over 250,000 supporters, activists and members worldwide. '''About Environment California''' Environment California is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization working to protect California’s clean air, clean water, and open space. '''About WiLDCOAST/COSTASALVAjE''' WiLDCOAST/COSTASALVAjE is an international conservation team that conserves coastal and marine ecosystems and wildlife.  +
April 2018 Hearing Report +The Coastal Commission met Wednesday, April 11 through Friday, April 13 at the Redondo Beach Public Library in Redondo Beach, CA. ActCoastal tracked several items this month, including a coastal armoring permit at San Onofre Surf Beach, the reconsideration of a permit for erodible concrete seawall in Solana Beach and a public access violation in Pacifica by Oceanaire Apartments. '''San Onofre Revetment''' On Wednesday, the Coastal Commission heard California State Park’s application to retain a 900-foot long riprap revetment along Surf Beach that was constructed under an emergency permit issued in February 2017 until February 28, 2019. The emergency revetment was installed as a temporary measure to protect the beachfront road and public parking spaces along Surf Beach during and after the 2016-2017 El Niño winter storms. The proposed short-term authorization of the revetment is to give State Parks additional time to conduct an engineering survey and draft a long-term hazards management plan for the area, and apply for a new coastal development permit to implement the recommended measures for this site. The Surfrider Foundation asked for denial of the permit given that we already know that the best long-term solution to protecting access at Surf Beach is not armoring it - the staff report readily admits as much. Commissioners engaged in a thoughtful discussion on the diocese and there was a general consensus that emergency permitting and associated short term extensions is a practice they’d like to move away from - especially given the increasing threat of sea level rise and the need for a more thoughtful approach to coastal erosion. Commissioner Sara Aminzadeh agreed with the Surfrider Foundation that shoreline armoring by emergency permit is becoming a trend, “under the guise of public access but is in effect accelerating erosion which limits enjoyment of our coast and ocean.” Executive Director Jack Ainsworth noted that there is a “need to be more judicious in how emergency permits are administered globally”. Commissioner Aminzadeh motioned to deny State Park’s application, however, it was not seconded. Commissioner Mark Vargas motioned to approve staff’s recommendation with an amendment to incorporate special conditions suggested by the Surfrider Foundation (including surf monitoring and a stakeholder involvement process). The motion passed. Coastal Commission staff also agreed to come back with a status update and informational item on this at the October hearing. '''Solana Beach “Defacto” Seawall''' In December 2017, the Commission denied an application to install a 90-foot long, preemptive “erodible” concrete seawall. The applicant then filed for reconsideration, the subject of this item. 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 already approved at the March hearing. The Commission found that the proposed infill would adversely impact beach access, recreation and visual quality, all of which are inconsistent with Chapter 3 of the Coastal Act. The agent, Walter Crampton, maintained the portion of the bluff proposed for armoring is indeed in danger of collapse in Solana Beach. Commissioners unanimously denied the request for reconsideration.  +
April 2019 Hearing Report +'''April Hearing Report''' 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. '''Capitola Jetty''' On Wednesday morning, Commissioners unanimously approved a permit to rehabilitate a groin, known as the Capitola Jetty, in the City of Capitola. Surfrider expressed concern with the perpetuation of hard armoring at Capitola Beach, as well as the insufficient alternatives analysis and lack of sea level rise analysis. The groin does provide an important beach access opportunity by trapping sand that would otherwise erode as well as forming a wave that is revered by the local surfing community and apparently has minimal impacts down coast. Given all these factors, Surfrider chose not to oppose reconstruction of the jetty but to instead ask staff to require a more robust alternatives analysis, including living shorelines, as part of the five-year reporting requirement – studies suggest that in the future there may be additional options that will provide more of a multi-benefit solution that not only preserves the beach and surf but also provides flood protection and minimizes seasonal variations. Commission staff incorporated these requests into the conditions, which will ensure the City consider how best to protect the public’s long-term interests. This example also highlights the ongoing need generally for holistic and creative approaches to improving and preserving our coast in the coming years. Standard practice should be to require living shorelines, managed retreat and green and grey infrastructure options to be considered in all alternatives analyses for hard armoring. Alternatives analyses should also incorporate high sea level rise projection scenarios and compare economic costs over the short, medium and long terms respectively. '''April Vote Charts''' The April hearing resulted in two vote charts. The first is an appeal for a proposed home remodel in Laguna Beach. Staff recommended denial of a de novo hearing on an appeal of a City of Laguna Beach approved permit for an 1600+ square-foot addition and remodel of a blufftop home with ancillary structures and grading, etc. After extensive debate, Commissioners ultimately denied the proposal. Read the full vote chart, [http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/Issue:Laguna_Beach_Setbacks_Appeal here]. The second vote chart is an enforcement item that addressed unpermitted grading and fill of over 13 acres of wetlands in Marin County. The wetlands impacted are on an organic dairy farm and part of the Estero de San Antonio which empties into Bodega Bay. Wetlands are protected habitat under the Coastal Act and serve important ecosystem functions such as storm water and agricultural run-off filtration, carbon sequestration, erosion and flood protection and more. Restoring these wetlands is important not only for the water quality impacts downstream but also for the precedent and message that the Coastal Commission takes habitat protection seriously. Read the full vote chart, [http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/Issue:Enforcement_-_Marin_Wetlands_Fill here].  +
April Coastal Commission Hearing: a summary +'''April Coastal Commission Hearing: a summary''' ''Mistrust further flamed'' Last month we reported that events of the March hearing did nothing to repair the damaged relationship the Commission and Commissioners have with the public. The April hearing also offered no help. The April 13 hearing of the Coastal Commission was electric with anticipation. A crowd of approximately 500 people gathered that first day of the three-day hearing to show their support for commission staff in recommending a “No” vote for the Dept of Parks and Recreation’s proposal to charge fees at historically free beaches in Sonoma County. After seven-plus hours of presentation and public comment, Commissioners voted to continue the item. Public comment lasted over four hours and was filled with a broad spectrum of stakeholder voices- local officials, tribal representatives, nonprofits, and community members. A clip of one such stakeholder, the Sonoma Chapter of Surfrider, can be viewed [[here https://youtu.be/482jcrPAwrM|here ]]. ''Staff attempts responsible seawall permit conditions'' Other items heard later in the week included an after-the-fact permit for an Encinitas seawall and other bluff modifications. This item had the beginnings of setting a good precedent; staff called for the application of mitigation fees for the loss of public access and recreation area due to the seawall’s installation. This seawall not only performs as other seawalls do – inhibiting sand replenishment to maintain beach area – but is also a case where high tide already reaches all the way up to the bluff. Factored into the public access and mitigation fee was the fact that the applicant had repeatedly disregarded permitting requirements and ignored staff’s attempts to bring him into compliance for years. Unfortunately, Commissioners thought the fee unwarranted and called for it to be removed and the permit to be granted. ''Long awaited public access victory'' On a more positive note was the approval of a settlement agreement and cease and desist order. This agreement was years in the making, with initial issue stemming from 2009 when the City of Dana Point adopted ordinances (later followed by gates) that heavily restricted beach access to Strands Beach. This was a significant item – it’s successful close reaffirmed the Commission’s authority and the effectiveness of multi-stakeholder involvement and cooperation. ''Upcoming'' Next month’s Commission hearing will take place in Newport Beach Wednesday, May 11 through Friday, May 13. The agenda can be found [[here http://www.coastal.ca.gov/mtgcurr.html|here]]. A large crowd is expected to be in attendance on Thursday, May 12 for the hearing of the Newport Banning Ranch project, which is a multilayered project covering issues of oil contamination, remediation and potential development of sensitive habitat. This is a case in which the strength of the definition of environmentally sensitive habitat area (ESHA) and the protection thereof will be brought into question. Also to be heard at this hearing is yet another round of appeals for development in the Venice area granted exemptions by the City of Los Angeles for which Commission Staff have recommended be denied.  +
August 2018 Hearing Report +'''August Hearing Recap''' The California Coastal Commission met at the Redondo Beach Public Library in Redondo Beach on Wednesday, August 8 through Friday, August 10. The hearing was extremely busy with many high-profile and controversial items on the agenda, including the Redondo Beach LCP Amendment known as Measure C, or the “King Harbor Coastal Access, Revitalization and Enhancement Act” which was approved as submitted. Additionally, the Commission heard several coastal armoring and sea level rise related items, the Gaviota Coast Plan LCP amendment and finalized a Tribal Consultation Policy. ''Tribal Consultation Policy'' The Coastal Commission held a third and final public hearing on a draft Tribal Consultation Policy on Wednesday. The Policy intends to strengthen the Commission’s relationships with Native American Tribes, encouraging outreach and collaboration. The San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians and the Tongva Ancestral Territorial Tribal Nation supported the Policy as proposed. The Gabrieleno Band of Mission Indians Kizh Nation expressed concern about the definition of tribal sovereignty. The Coastal Commission agreed to remove the definition and work with tribes to find more amenable language. The definition will be proposed before the Coastal Commission for inclusion in the Policy at a future hearing. ''Gaviota Coast Plan'' Last week, the Coastal Commission heard the proposed Gaviota Coast Plan, which has been in the works since 2009. The Plan will function as a new stand-alone area plan in the County’s LCP and will determine the preservation and development on this portion of California for the coming decades. The Plan, with Coastal Commission staff’s modifications includes enhanced protections for environmentally sensitive habitats, agriculture, public access, views, and cultural resources. The Gaviota Coast is the largest remaining rural coastland in Southern California - home to 1,400 species and their habitats, working ranches, and farms. 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. Read the full meeting report, [http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/Meeting:2018/August here]. ''Martin Setback in Encinitas'' On Wednesday, the Coastal Commission heard a proposal for construction of a new two-story home and basement with a 40-foot setback from the bluff edge. Coastal Commission staff recommended that this project be redesigned requiring a 79-foot setback and no basement component. Staff’s recommendation increased the setback by 39 feet in order to account for bluff retreat over the life of the project. Removal of the basement in the future could significantly alter the bluffs natural state, which is also inconsistent with the LCP. Ultimately, Commissioners approved the staff recommendation with a 75-foot setback and no basement. The Coastal Act protects “existing” structures because they were built before we knew better – now we know better. These hazardous areas can only be developed very carefully, if at all. For more information, see the full meeting report, [http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/Meeting:2018/August here]. ''Resolution on Sea Level Rise and Shoreline Preservation'' The Coastal Commission's Resolution on Sea Level Rise and Shoreline Preservation aims to fulfill the Governor’s call for commitments to increase climate resilience. As such, the Resolution supports implementation of adaptation strategies that seek to increase resilience of at-risk habitats such as beaches, dunes, salt marshes, and estuaries, including living shorelines, coastal restoration projects, and approaches that allow habitats to migrate inland as sea levels rise. It also commits to a vision of avoiding coastal armoring whenever possible and more. For more information, see the meeting report, [http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/Meeting:2018/August here.] ''11 Lagunita Cease and Desist Orders'' On Thursday, the Coastal Commission heard a landmark enforcement decision, described by the Los Angeles Times in their recent article: “Seaside mansion or public beach: Which will the California Coastal Commission save?”. The property owners at 11 Lagunita Drive, Laguna Beach 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. 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. For more information, please see the meeting report, [http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/Meeting:2018/August here.] ''Wave Resort, Dana Point'' On Friday, the Coastal Commission heard an appeal by Surfrider Foundation for a luxury hotel development approved by the City of Dana Point. One of the critical issues focused on by the appeal (and by the Commissioners during the hearing) was whether the certified Headlands Development and Conservation Plan (HDCP) permits construction of a hotel in addition to a hostel in Planning Area 4 (where the proposed project is located). According to the appellant, the HDCP allows for development of one hotel and does not permit a second hotel in Planning Area 4. Anything other than this plain language interpretation of the HDCP would open up the door to other development inconsistent LCPs. Coastal Commission staff disagreed, stating that the HDCP is sufficiently ambiguous to allow the luxury hotel. As such, staff recommended approval of the development with conditions. Commissioners ultimately agreed with staff and approved the development with proposed conditions. For more information, read the full meeting report, [http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/Meeting:2018/August here.] ''Sunset Beach Setbacks'' Items F23b and F23c for application No. 5-17-0678 and 5-17-0680 (Bassaly #1, LLC, Sunset Beach, Huntington Beach) were heard together at the Coastal Commission hearing on Friday. The two coastal development applications by the same homeowner are for beachfront homes at Sunset Beach in Huntington Beach. Coastal Commission staff recommended the project be redesigned with a minimum five-foot setback from the seaward property lines and prohibition of future shoreline protective devices. The Applicant resisted the proposed conditions, stating staff’s conditions will require additional expenditures and are arbitrary and capricious since the Commission has previously approved similar applications without setbacks as consistent with the local LCPs approved decades ago. Commissioners, sympathetic to the Applicant and not wanting to send them back to the drawing board, offered a compromise. The CDPs were approved with a five foot setback for the first floor, allowing the second story to overhang in its original configuration. Read the full meeting report, [http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/Meeting:2018/August here].  +
August Coastal Commission Report +'''August Coastal Commission Hearing: an overview''' While none of the items on the Coastal Commission’s August agenda resulted in vote charts, many of them still deserve attention. The meeting took place at the Scott’s Valley Hilton and drew about 300 people the first day. Many of those attending utilized public comment to declare support for Commission enforcement staff’s cease-and-desist order given to CEMEX’s sand-mining operation in Monterey County and encourage a timely shut-down of the plant – see the full story in the [http://www.montereycountyweekly.com/news/local_news/cemex-sand-mine-decision-anticipated-before-years-end/article_2aad918a-64bf-11e6-921a-1ff542066407.html Monterey County Weekly]. '''Legislation''' (See background on coastal bills in play [[Major_Coastal_Commission_Reforms_In_Play_in_Legislature|here]].) The Legislative Report contained updates on several bills, most notably: SB 1190, a bill by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson to ban ex partes; AB 2002, a bill by Assemblymembers Mark Stone, Marc Levine and Toni Atkins requiring developers’ agents to register as lobbyists; and AB 2616, a bill by Assemblymember Autumn Burke that would insert environmental justice language into the Coastal Act and ensure better representation of oft-marginalized constituencies on the Coastal Commission. All three bills are moving forward; most notably, Jackson’s office is working to revise amendments inserted into SB 1190 by the Assembly Appropriations Committee, as reported in the [http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-exparte-bill-20160818-snap-story.html Los Angeles Times]. '''Moro Cojo Affordable Housing, Monterey County''' [http://documents.coastal.ca.gov/reports/2016/8/w16c-8-2016.pdf Appeal No. A-3-MCO-16-0017] This appeal questioned Monterey County’s decision to amend a permit to Community Housing and Improvement Systems and Planning Association, Inc. (CHISPA) for reduction of affordable housing term for 161 existing single-family homes near Castroville Blvd. in unincorporated Prunedale, North Monterey County. As noted in the [http://www.montereycountyweekly.com/blogs/news_blog/moro-cojo-affordable-housing-appeal-heads-to-coastal-commission/article_b508e3b4-5b57-11e6-be3c-e710ad09685d.html Monterey County Weekly] story on the issue, when the project was approved in 1994, county supervisors overrode major environmental impacts of the development, citing the “acute need for affordable housing.” Residents now wish to lift the deed restrictions associated with the project, which would allow homeowners to sell their houses at market rate, effectively ending the “affordable housing” element of the original project. Commissioners voted 9-2 in favor of the appellant with a finding of substantial issue, so this issue will return for more discussion at a future meeting. ''' Overnight RV Parking Restrictions''', Santa Cruz Appeal No. A-3-STC-16-0063 One of the most contentious items on the agenda triggered the angry stomping out of a Santa Cruz city councilperson. Briefly, the City of Santa Cruz voted to prohibit RV parking between midnight and 5 a.m.; activists claim the ban unfairly targets the homeless. The full story is in the [http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/article/NE/20160810/NEWS/160819965 Santa Cruz Sentinel]. ''' Loperena single-family home''' Application No. A-3-SLO-15-0001 This application by Jack Loperena to construct a 2,200 sq.-foot single-family home in Cayucos drew ire from neighbors and a list of conditions from staff. The lot in question can barely be described as “buildable” with any accuracy – this item illustrates the divide that occurs when what a property owner desires conflicts with reality. Despite clear differences, Loperena conceded to the conditions put forth by staff, which included a larger setback and smaller home. What to do when a site is fundamentally undevelopable remains an unsolved question. .  +
August Hearing Report +'''August Coastal Commission Hearing''' The August Coastal Commission hearing was located in Calabasas. The agenda was slightly lighter than usual. On Wednesday, the Surfrider Foundation along with the Sierra Club presented during public comment highlighting the success of Coastal Cleanup Day and the Coastal Commission’s key role in the statewide beach cleanup day. On Thursday, the Surfrider Foundation gave a presentation alerting Commissioners of the dangers of coastal armoring and seawalls, especially related to emergency permits, and presented several cases that will come before the Commission in the near future where alternative solutions must be sought. That presentation can be seen [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgyuRXiaz5Q here]. '''Residential Adaptation Policy Guidance''' Commission staff presented an Introduction to the Draft Residential Policy Guidance on Wednesday at the August hearing (Item W6h). Staff also presented the document in a webinar recently, which can be seen here: [https://youtu.be/zRVkCMNPQs4 https://youtu.be/zRVkCMNPQs4.] The purpose of the Residential Adaptation Policy Guidance is to build on the Commission’s existing sea level rise guidance and to expand on strategies for addressing sea level rise and associated public access issues. The policy guidance suggests local governments review the existing state assessment of residential shoreline areas including mapping and inventory and descriptions of hazards. The guidance also recommends community scale planning, an implementation strategy and offers model policy language. It also calls for use of best available science, risk disclosure, hazard avoidance and redevelopment regulation policies. The Commission’s key take home points included: the need for proactive adaptation, internalizing risk, phased approaches, protecting public trust lands, maximizing public participation and starting immediately. Comments are due on September 15 to residentialadaptation@coastal.ca.gov. '''The Public Trust Doctrine''' On Wednesday, the Center for Ocean Solutions (COS) presented research and a consensus statement developed by a working group, entitled, [http://centerforoceansolutions.org/news-stories/public-trust-doctrine-guiding-principle-governing-californias-coast-under-climate The Public Trust Doctrine: A Guiding Principle for Governing California’s Coastal Under Climate Change]. The presentation discussed how coastal dynamism is related to the common law public trust doctrine and legal boundaries that separate important public and private rights to the coast. The working group pointed out that new threats as a result of climate change and sea level rise present complicated management challenges. And that the coastal squeeze on natural habitats and risks to development are an enormous societal challenge. Notably, the public trust doctrine requires the state to act in a manner most protective of public trust resources and uses. The working group argues that the public trust doctrine also grants the state the ability and the duty to regulate or limit any uses of private lands that would substantially impair public interests in nearby trust lands. Furthermore, they assert that the protection of the public trust may involve new regulations, denial of incompatible uses and mitigation measures. The working group also emphasized that the state consider existing uses and coordinate with other agencies and entities that have decision making authority on properties that will soon enter the public trust boundary as the mean high tide line migrates landward.  +

B

Big Win for the Santa Monica Mountains +'''Sarah Sikich, Heal the Bay’s Science and Policy Director for Coastal Resources, celebrates a big win for the Santa Monica Mountains.''' [[File:SMM-pic-2.jpg|500px|center|Santa Monica Mountains]] In a unanimous decision, the California Coastal Commission approved the <u>Santa Monica Mountains Land Use Plan</u> at their April hearing. The Land Use Plan, developed by the Los Angeles County planning department and Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s office, outlines the future of the 52,000-acre Santa Monica Mountains Coastal Zone, a popular recreational region. This area is characterized by steep rugged mountains, extensive native habitat and wildlife, but it’s also dotted by large estates, ranches, and pockets of communities. The Land Use Plan, in conjunction with the Local Implementation Plan (slated for consideration by the Coastal Commission this June), provides guidance for future development in this critical region of greater Los Angeles, which is encapsulated by the [http://www.nps.gov/samo/index.htm Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area] – the largest urban national park in the U.S. When implemented, this plan will protect the integrity of this region by preserving scenic views, water quality, and wildlands while allowing small-scale organic farming to continue. The Land Use Plan is endorsed by a wide group of supporters, including Heal the Bay, Los Angeles Waterkeeper, California Coastal Protection Network, Malibu Surfing Association, Mountains Restoration Trust, Surfrider Foundation, Las Virgenes Homeowners Federation, and many residents and equestrian groups. Several habitat protection provisions are featured in the plan, including a prohibition on non-resource-dependent development in the most sensitive habitat areas (known as H1 habitat under this plan) paired with a 100-foot buffer setback requirement for development from this area to further conserve natural resources. The Land Use Plan would also impose new standards designed to protect wildlife by banning anti-coagulant rodenticides – which bioaccumulate up the food chain – working toward a poison-free Santa Monica Mountains. Additionally, the Plan consists of a number of water quality and habitat protections, including 100-foot stream and riparian habitat setback requirements for development, measures to prevent streambank armoring and associated erosion, and policies to prevent polluted runoff and habitat damage from agricultural use in the mountains, along with a provision that does not allow for new vineyard development in the mountains. [[File:SMM-pic-1-300x225.jpg|right|Santa Monica Mountains]] The provision prohibiting new viticulture has attracted vocal opposition from some members of the wine community. But, the rugged character of these mountains is not compatible with vineyard development. Erosion from soils between rows planted on steep slopes can clog stream habitat upon which newts and frogs depend, and excessive nutrients and pesticide runoff from vineyards can foul water quality. “You would not plant vineyards in Big Sur, and they shouldn’t be planted in the Santa Monica Mountains,” said Supervisor Yaroslavsky, putting the policy into perspective when he explained the vibrant life and scenic quality of these mountains, which draw in millions of visitors annually. The plan also grants existing legally permitted vineyards to remain, and also allows for organic farming in specific regions of the mountains. We look forward to the Coastal Commission’s consideration of the Santa Monica Mountains Local Implementation Plan (the companion piece to the Land Use Plan) sometime in the next few months. Together these elements make up the entire Local Coastal Program, which has been under development for nearly a decade. We are hopeful that a sound program is advanced by the County and adopted by the Coastal Commission as soon as possible will protect coastal and water quality through planning and permitting efforts in this important region of Los Angeles County. [[File:SarahSikich-300x200.jpg|left|Sarah Sikich]] ''Sarah Sikich, Science & Policy Director Coastal Resources at Heal the Bay, is responsible for research, advocacy and legislative efforts related to coastal habitats and marine life, including marine protected areas, coastal power plants and marine debris. Sarah has a bachelor’s in Marine and Freshwater Biology from the University of New Hampshire and a master’s degree from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Before joining Heal the Bay, Sarah worked at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis. Sarah was a member of the Marine Life Protection Act South Coast Regional Stakeholder Group, where she helped design a network of marine protected areas for Southern California. She is also a Vice Chair of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission. She has also taught in the Global Sustainability Program at UCLA Extension, and is currently a lecturer at UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. When she’s not fighting for the ocean, Sarah can be found hanging out at the beach, running or surfing along the Malibu coast.''  +

C

California Will Reject More Dirty and Dangerous Drilling +For immediate release April 28, 2017 Contact: Jennifer Savage, Surfrider Foundation, jsavage@surfrider.org, 707-267-8458 '''Coastal advocates agree: California will reject more dirty and dangerous drilling''' Today, the Trump Administration issued an executive order directing the U.S. Interior Department to review the current schedule for offshore drilling lease sales, potentially opening the door to new oil and gas drilling off California’s coast. The order also asked for a review of all marine national monuments and national marine sanctuaries from the past decade. The order has generated unified opposition by key California state leaders—both administrative and legislative. Coastal advocates are equally opposed: “Even in a time of fake news and science denial, oil drilling off our coast is dirty and dangerous. California needs to move to 100% clean energy, and I look forward to working with state leaders to accelerate our transition to these fuels of the future,” said Dan Jacobson, State Director for Environment California. “Every Californian deserves clean air and access to a clean coast, and Trump’s reckless plan to open up offshore drilling along our shores would jeopardize both. We thank state leaders for standing strong against this attempt to sell out our public coastline in the name of polluter profits,” said Marce Gutierrez-Graudins of Azul. “Decades of spills, leaks and occasional explosions leave no doubt that offshore oil drilling is damaging – and Californians don’t want it. The coast is our playground and our coastal economy depends on tourism, recreation and fishing. Surfrider’s members are prepared to reject the interests of the oil and gas industry, defend the rights of the public, and keep battling these blatant attempts to exploit our national treasures,” said Jennifer Savage, Surfrider Foundation’s California Policy Manager. “California’s coastline is the driving force behind a $40 billion ocean economy, and California has barred new offshore oil leasing in state waters for nearly half a century. Our wall is a blue wall that will defeat any efforts by the Trump Administration to grant new federal offshore oil leases along our coast. Trump can either lead the country into a renewable energy future, or he can get out of the way as California marches forward,” said Susan Jordan, Executive Director of California Coastal Protection Network. <ul> <li>California State Senate Resolution 35 supporting prohibition on new oil or gas drilling in federal waters offshore California – [https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SR35 Senate Resolution]</li> <li>Los Angeles Board of Supervisors Resolution against oil and gas – [http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2017/17-0002-s68_reso_04-28-2017.pdf Los Angeles Board of Supervisors]</li> <li>Pacific Coast Governors Issue Statement on Presidential Executive Order on Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling – [http://https://www.gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=19767 Office of Governor Brown]</li> <li>Governor Brown calls on President Barack Obama to use his authority to permanently prohibit new offshore oil and gas leasing in federal waters off the coast of California – [http://https://www.gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=19626 Governor Brown Takes Action]</li> <li>California State Lands Commission resolution supporting probation on new oil and gas leasing in OCS – [http://http://www.slc.ca.gov/About/News_Room/2016/docs/12-06-16_Resolution.pdf State Lands Commission]</li> </ul>  +
Coast Scores During Legislative Season +[[File:800px-Flag of California.svg .png|600px|frameless|center]] The 2014 legislative season was a game-changer for the coast. Several important coastal and ocean laws are now “on the books.” Below is a quick list of key legislation passed–while there are others bills that will benefit the coast, the following laws are critical in order to help the Coastal Commission and other agencies continue important work of safeguarding our coast and upholding the Coastal Act. ====Martin’s Beach Access Bill Singed==== Governor Brown signed SB 968—a bill that requires a timeline and process for the State Lands Commission to restore public access to Martin’s Beach. The bill directs the Commission to enter into negotiations (for a period of one year) with the landowner who has blocked public access; and if at the end of that year negotiations have not been fruitful, State Lands can opt to use other mechanisms to restore public access. Surfrider has been working since 2008 to “Save Martin’s Beach.” Check out our blog. ====Climate Change Adaptation Incorporated into State Budget==== In June of 2014, the Governor officially signed the State budget to include the establishment of the “Climate Resilience Account” which gives $3 million to coastal agencies to address Sea Level Rise and Climate Change. Surfrider advocated for coastal protection in the budget process and we are delighted to see such progressive measures to effectively plan for Climate Change. ====Budget Victory for Coast==== The 2015 State budget includes $3M in funding (over four years) for the Coastal Commission to partner with local governments to complete and update Local Coastal Programs (LCPs). LCPs are the backbone of the Coastal Act and how local communities properly plan and protect our vast coastline. Unfortunately, many coastal communities have not completed their plans and most have not updated their plans in 20-30 years; so the additional funds are much needed and will help the State protect coastal resources at the local level. ====Coastal Commission Receives Authority to Fine Coastal Act Violators==== In yet another “budget victory”, the Commission will now be able to pursue fines when individuals do not comply with the Coastal Act—for example when private landowners posts illegal “no parking” or no “beach access” signs. Of the 2,000 outstanding Coastal Act violations, the majority of cases are from illegal efforts to block public access. This new Coastal Commission authority protects the public’s right to access the beach. ====Governor Signs Bill to Improve Coastal Commission Transparency==== Governor Brown signed AB 474, legislation that would improve the transparency of individual meetings with California Coastal Commissioners. AB 474 provides an update to the current requirements. Currently, Commissioners must only disclose individuals who initiated a meeting. Under the new law, Commissioners must disclosure the identity of everyone who participates in ex parte communications. Surfrider supported this bill because it is important the Commission is operating in an open, transparent, and impartial manner. And in '''other news''', not related to legislation, but to coastal protection…the Save San Onofre Coalition won another victory for the landmark “ Save Trestles.”campaigns on Sept 23, 2014. Despite the toll road being resoundingly rejected in 2008 by the Coastal Commission and Federal agencies, toll road developers are trying to build the road in segments. Last year at the Regional Water board, Save San Onofre Coalition partners won a victory when the “first segment” was denied. Toll road developers tried to appeal the decision to the State Water Board. The State Water board rejected TCA’s request to weaken California’s water quality protection laws and overturn the regional board decision–thus rejecting TCA’s toll road extension project.  +
Coastal communities should adopt ‘managed retreat’ +Heavy rain, high winds and giant surf have been roaring in off the Pacific Ocean in recent weeks as this year’s El Niño has begun. Along our beaches, from Pacifica north to Ocean Beach, a new cycle of coastal erosion is under way. In some locations, this means a [http://www.sfchronicle.com/science/article/El-Ni-o-forecast-renews-worries-about-Pacifica-6724579.php threat to beachside homes], businesses and infrastructure. In San Francisco, we have an erosion challenge at the Sloat Boulevard area of Ocean Beach. Ever since the mid-1990s, waves have been chewing away at the base of the Great Highway and the public access parking lots. In 2010, a piece of the road was continually undermined by the surf until it collapsed onto the beach. Today, a nearby wastewater pipeline is under threat from the encroaching sea. In order to protect our city infrastructure, the San Francisco Department of Public Works has added large boulders to the shoreline. The boulders absorb wave energy before it can cause further erosion and damage. Shoreline protection devices such as seawalls and rock revetments may be useful in protecting threatened development. Unfortunately, they can also lead to the destruction of our beaches. For example, boulder revetments such as the ones at Ocean Beach cover what remains of the sandy shoreline. The rocks choke off public access to and along the beach, are unsightly and can spread erosion to the adjacent area. Seawalls are often harmful in that they block our shorelines from migrating inland. When this happens, beaches become submerged as the tidal zone advances to the wall. This has already occurred along much of Pacifica’s beachfront and is beginning to take hold at Ocean Beach in the area south of Sloat Boulevard. [[File:Sloat_erosion.jpg|thumb|left]] Even without this year’s El Niño, much of the Bay Area coastline is undergoing a state of progressive erosion. To preserve our beaches, the Surfrider Foundation is calling for local governments to begin planning for the future relocation of threatened development. This is known as managed retreat. The conventional response, which is to rely on sand replenishment, is costly, temporary and does not really fix the issue at hand. In many cases, sand is in short supply, rendering beach replenishment unsustainable. By relocating structures whenever possible, we gain a real long-term solution that both safeguards development and protects our beaches. In an era of sea-level rise and climate change, we hope to see managed retreat become a more common practice. After all, our beaches and coastlines are precious jewels that belong to the public. They should not be permanently destroyed to protect improperly located development. ''Lifelong surfer Bill McLaughlin has surfed at Ocean Beach for 30 years. He is the Restore Sloat Campaign manager for the San Francisco chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. This article was first published by the [http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Coastal-communities-should-adopt-managed-6731307.php?t=9eaada4a40cefdcb88&cmpid=twitter-premium San Francisco Chronicle].''  +
Commission Seeks to “Lift the Fog on Fracking” +In August 2013, the Associated Press reported that oil companies have used hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and other types of “well stimulation treatments” to access oil beneath state and federal waters for decades without notifying state agencies that the practice has been occurring. [[File:WTFrack.png|thumb|right]] This discovery was a big wakeup call that sent some regulators scrambling to figure out how fracking had occurred without their awareness. The California Coastal Commission, which has jurisdiction over oil and gas activities that occur in or affect state waters, was the first agency to step up. In August, the Commission vowed to investigate the undisclosed fracking and to identify potential actions it could take to address the issue. Fast forward to January 2014. In anticipation of a Commission briefing on fracking, a coalition of coastal activists (including Surfrider, Coastal Protection Network, Ocean Foundation and Environmental Defense Center) spent several weeks identifying what might be done to monitor and regulate the practice effectively. We identified several state and federal agencies that '''''ought''''' to be playing a part in regulating offshore fracking. We also produced a brief small report, “Lift the Fog on Ocean Fracking,” which recommended common-sense measures that the CCC might adopt to start bringing offshore fracking under control. To review the full set of recommendations go [http://public.surfrider.org/Stefanie%20/FracReco%20.pdf here]. To review our accompanying press release go [http://public.surfrider.org/Stefanie%20/CCFracRelease%20.pdf here]. At the February 2014 Commission hearing, staff provided the Commission and the public with a [http://www.coastal.ca.gov/pdf/W7a-2-2014_Fracking%20Briefing.pdf briefing] about their investigation. The briefing was well attended by citizens who shared their concerns about offshore fracking, as well as representatives of the oil and gas industry, who attempted to convince the Commission that no action was needed. Listen to a quick [http://www.kclu.org/2014/02/13/fracking-hot-topic-at-california-coastal-commission-meeting-on-central-coast/ radio clip] with great quotes from those who attended For their part, the Commissioners agreed on a pragmatic strategy for taking near-term action and gathering more information. In a nutshell, the Commission agreed on the following: * Oil companies conducting new fracking and other well stimulation treatments in state waters must obtain a Coastal Development Permit (CDP). The will help bring needed transparency to offshore fracking and allow the Commission evaluate the potential impacts of the practice as part of the permitting process. * The Commission will enter into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the California Department of Conservation to delineate the agencies’ respective authorities, responsibilities, and notification and reporting requirements, as relevant to fracking and other well stimulation treatments. * The Commission will work with federal regulatory agencies such as U.S. EPA and the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) it to determine where fracking has been approved in older permits, some issued pre-Coastal Act, for drilling in federal waters. * The Commission will also ask federal regulators to notify it when new offshore oil-drilling activities may include well stimulation treatments, so that it may exercise its own regulatory authority under state and federal law. * The Commission will advise U.S. EPA to modify its general permit for offshore oil and gas activities to require additional Commission review. * The Commission will request to participate in upcoming fracking science and policy processes required by Senate Bill 4, which was enacted in 2013 to establish a statewide regulatory framework for fracking. Specifically, the Commission will ask to be part of the Independent Scientific Study led by the California Natural Resources Agency (“SB 4 Science Study”) and the development of a statewide Environmental Impact Report by the Department of Conservation. * The Commission will convene a public workshop after the release of the SB 4 Science Study to examine the study’s results and identify its next steps. We were pleased to see that these actions closely mirrored our recommendations. However, this investigation is just a first step toward reigning in undisclosed fracking and establishing a stringent statewide regulatory framework for the practice. The Commission has an important, if difficult, role to ensure that any fracking in state and federal waters meets the requirements of the Coastal Act. Although there is much work to be done, coastal advocates applaud the Commission for taking the initial steps to address this complicated situation and assure Californians that it takes seriously its responsibility to protect our coastal resources.  +
Community Unity: taking a stand against desal +What happens when you get involved and have a voice? Potentially great things for your community – as they did Tuesday evening in Hermosa Beach. It was here on March 22, with the gathering and support of community members and organizations, that the Hermosa Beach City Council ''unanimously'' approved its letter of opposition to the West Basin Ocean Water Desalination Project. With this, Hermosa Beach joins the ranks of Manhattan Beach in taking a stance ''against'' the project. “It is great to see the early support from the cities of Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach protecting our coastline from industrial facilities,” says Bruce Reznik, Los Angeles Waterkeeper Executive Director. “We agree that West Basin has other options that are less costly, energy intensive and better for our coastal communities.” The West Basin desal plant is not the only new proposed project in Southern California as there is also another proposed plant for Huntington Beach. By feeding off Californian’s drought-induced fears, desal projects have marketed themselves as being the only solution. Thankfully, California has better options that are already in operation and underway. One such option is water reclamation, which is significantly lower in cost and energy expenditure, and serves as a high quality water source. The Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant in West Basin is already doing this and currently working to expand its production. “Expanding the amount of Hyperion’s wastewater that is captured, treated and reclaimed beyond what is already envisioned is the more sustainable and cost-effective option,” says Craig W. Cadwallader, Chair of Surfrider Foundation South Bay Chapter. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dramatically reduce the wastewater currently being dumped into the Santa Monica Bay, where millions of people swim, dive and surf, on a regular basis.” California throws away 4.3 million acre-feet of water every year. This means of the 5 million acre-feet of wastewater California produces annually, only 13 percent is reused. This already existing resource won’t result in harmful environmental impacts and should be better utilized. So in addition to congratulating the cities of Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach for standing up to a wasteful and destructive project, say “Yes” to the sustainable practice of water reclamation and “No” to a wasteful desalination plant in your backyard. For additional information see: [http://www.easyreadernews.com/123881/hermosa-beach-council-votes-oppose-desalination-plant/ Easy Reader News article] covering the meeting [http://r4rd.org R4RD] - Residents for Responsible Desalination (will be holding an informative town hall meeting 7pm on May 3rd at Eader School in Huntington Beach [http://www.beachapedia.org/Desalination Beachapedia] desalination info-article  +

D

December 2017 Hearing Report +'''December Coastal Commission Hearing''' The December hearing took place Wednesday, Dec. 13 through Friday, Dec. 15 at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point. The agenda included several important topics such as seawater desalination, coastal access, shoreline armoring, low-cost accommodations and more. The meeting resulted in three vote charts, all with good results. '''Seawater Desalination Briefing''' Coastal Commission staff gave an informational briefing on coastal resource issues and regulatory requirements related to seawater desalination in California. This was an informational item only; no Commission action was taken. Coastal Commission Senior Environmental Scientist Tom Luster spoke on the impacts of desalination plants including entrainment impacts and significant loss of marine life productivity and recommended Coastal Act and Water Code policies that mandate minimizing impacts to the extent feasible and largely pointed to subsurface intake examples as the preferred option. Natural Resource Defense Council, Orange County Coastkeeper, Surfrider Foundation, Azul, and Southern California Watershed Alliance provided comments, offering information on best practices and preferred alternatives to seawater desalination. Issues highlighted including impacts to marine life and the marine protected area network, compliance with new state law and policy and potential conflict with the state’s coastal hazard and sea level rise policy and regulations. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQdwOpO7eSg&feature=youtu.be Watch the full presentation here.] Commissioners expressed concern about the toxic content of brine discharge, the potential impacts to MPAs and marine life and asked how to evaluate the maximum amount of water conservation that should be required before resulting to seawater desalination. '''Erodible Concrete in Solana Beach''' Surfrider Foundation objected to a CDP application to install an erodible concrete seawall in Solana Beach. Surfrider rejects the notion that “erodible” concrete actually does erode at the same rate as the surrounding natural bluffs and thus, constitutes a seawall - which is not a permitted use as a preemptive measure. The staff report concedes that historically, erodible concrete has not eroded at the same rate as the bluffs. As detailed in the City’s certified LUP, erodible concrete is permitted to be installed preemptively, as its impacts to coastal resources are significantly less than those for seawalls. However, non-erodible concrete is not permitted to be installed preemptively and has many of the same adverse impacts as seawalls and would likely require mitigation for impacts to sand supply and public access and recreation. The Coastal Commission agreed with Surfrider that there is not sufficient data on the proposed seawall’s erodibility and that this and future coastal armoring decisions must be conservative in light of sea level rise. This bodes well for the future of our beaches facing heading threats due to sea level rise. Indeed, alternatives should be fully exploited before relying on seawalls with unproven erodibility, questionable need and grounds for approval. '''Parking Restrictions in Malibu''' The Coastal Commission voted heard an appeal of Local Coastal Development Permit 17-057, to implement a 30-minute parking restriction between the hours of 2 and 4 a.m. daily, and posting of parking restriction signs issued by the City of Malibu. The City approved project would restrict public parking on both sides of Pacific Coast Highway in the vicinity of Surfrider Beach, adjacent to the Malibu Pier. The City argues that the restriction will encourage parking turnover, which will benefit coastal visitors because there will be more parking available during other hours. The area where the restricted parking hours are proposed is directly in front of the most popular visitor serving portion of Surfrider Beach and is one of the few areas in Malibu where the public can park and access the beach at nighttime. Nearby parking lots are gated and closed to the public at night. The City’s findings reference that nighttime visitors may “exit their cars and walk along PCH and enjoy views”; however, 30 minutes does not provide adequate time for members of the public to access the beach, enjoy a moonlight walk along the sand, observe a grunion run, or go swimming or surfing and would unduly restrict coastal access to this portion of the coast. Commission Staff recommended that substantial issue exists and that the Commission deny the coastal development permit after the de novo hearing on the matter because the proposed project is not consistent with the public access and recreation policies of the certified City of Malibu LCP and the Coastal Act. Commissioners voted to unanimously deny the City’s proposed parking restrictions. '''Luxury Hotel in Dana Point''' The Commission heard an appeal by the Surfrider Foundation of City of Dana Point Local Coastal Development Permit for construction of a two-story 57-room luxury hotel, 52-bed hostel, a visitor center and more on a 1.6-acre vacant lot. The Surfrider Foundation filed the appeal, alleging the project’s failure to comply with the Headlands Development and Conservation Plan (HDCP) which is the applicable LCP standard of review, with the City’s certified LCP providing the standard of review where the HDCP is silent. However, Coastal Commission staff recommended finding no substantial issue based on ambiguity within the HDCP. Surfrider made the case that substantial issue should be found based on several factors. Notably, only a maximum of 90 keys (rooms) are permitted in Planning Areas 4 and 9 of the HDCP. The applicant proposes 147 keys in these two planning areas. Therefore, the project exceeds the scope and allowable use of the HDCP. In addition, the appellant claims that the intent of the HDCP was for only one hotel in the Headlands development. The proposed development would take place on a lot that is designated for purposes that would facilitate coastal access to surrounding trails and coastal vantage points. A luxury hotel would negate those purposes and inhibit coastal access for most people. Instead, a robust visitor center, hostel and parking spaces are more appropriate and conform with the HDCP. Substantial issue was found and the appeal will come back for a De Novo hearing in the near future. [http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/Meeting:2017/December See the full December hearing summary and vote charts here].  +
December 2018 Hearing Report +'''December Coastal Commission Report''' The December Coastal Commission hearing took place at the Newport Beach Civic Center on Wednesday, December 12 through Friday, December 14. The meeting included important coastal preservation issues: a beach nourishment project in Monterey Bay, public access at Hollister Ranch and a presentation on the Revised Draft Residential Adaptation Guidance. Notably, the Commission voted to approve an application for new oil production and wetlands restoration project by Beach Oil Minerals in Long Beach. '''Moss Landing Harbor 10-Year Dredging Operations''' The Moss Landing Harbor District requested a coastal development permit for approval of a 10-year dredge project and to dispose of sediments to restore navigable depths in berths in the Moss Landing Harbor and the North Harbor channel. The Surfrider Foundation Monterey Chapter raised concerns about the placement of a portion of the dredge materials onto the beach. Moss Landing Harbor has a history of sediment contamination including a legacy of toxic contaminants according to the Sampling and Analysis Plan. Surfrider asked that the Commission require the Harbor District to engage in ongoing sampling as dredged materials are extracted and prepared for beach placement and for surf monitoring conditions to be put into place. Commissioners Mary Luevano and Mark Vargas made a motion to continue the item to a future hearing and asked staff to investigate whether ongoing sampling was feasible. [http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/Issue:Moss_Landing_Harbor_10-Year_Dredging_Operations View the full vote chart, here.] '''Hollister Ranch''' On Friday, Coastal Commission staff presented an informational briefing on the 1982 Hollister Ranch Public Access Program. Hollister Ranch is a 14,000-acre, gated subdivision in Santa Barbara County. In the late 1970s, and again in the 1980s, the Coastal Commission attempted to obtain public access to the Hollister Ranch coast. The Commission’s proposed public access plan was met with opposition, threat of a lawsuit, blocked access and intervention by the state legislature. Due to pressure from the public, the Commission is exploring ways to revive efforts to restore access to Hollister Ranch. An interagency working group will be convened in 2019, and a draft public access plan, with public and stakeholder input, will be drafted. According to Susan Jordan at the Californian Coastal Protection Network (CCPN), the arguments used by property owners to block public access are distressing and unmerited, claiming the public will destroy the environment and only Ranch owners can be good stewards of this land. Susan went on to say that public access should should be managed in a way that is fair to the environment, the public and homeowners. All those who have historically been excluded access should have a say in what the Access Plan looks like up front and during the program development. She also pointed out that management problems currently exist at the Ranch. There are numerous examples and photographic evidence of homeowners driving their cars onto the beach. Watch the full CCPN presentation on the [https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4pZkuYIxZwBpq1ZVx-Q3LA?view_as=subscriber ActCoastal YouTube page]. The Commission plans to hold a local public workshop in March for additional input. [https://www.coastal.ca.gov/hollister-ranch/ More information can be found here]. '''Residential Adaptation Guidance and South Orange County Beaches''' Representatives from the Surfrider Foundation gave a presentation highlighting recent erosion events in South Orange County and their implications about the need for improved coastal hazards planning locally and statewide. Recently, the Coastal Commission delayed adoption of their draft Residential Adaptation Guidance due to opposition by a vocal minority of those fortunate enough to benefit from the currently high value of coastal real estate. Surfrider expressed concerned that the public interest is being neglected with the delay and potential rewrite of the Guidance. As written, the Guidance provides recommendations for progressive, proactive and precautionary planning and policy to address the challenges of sea level rise and coastal hazards. Watch the Surfrider Foundation’s full presentation on the [https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4pZkuYIxZwBpq1ZVx-Q3LA?view_as=subscriber ActCoastal YouTube page]. Surfrider also urges you to take action by [https://secured.surfrider.org/action/engagement?actionId=AR0024609&id=701i00000018YoU sending a message to Executive Director Jack Ainsworth], today!  +
December Hearing Report +'''December Coastal Commission Hearing: an overview''' December’s Coastal Commission hearing covered a range of important topics including coastal access, recreational resources, and the application of recently vested power to levy administrative fines for Coastal Act violations. Most notably, Commissioners voted to levy administrative fines for an egregious and ongoing access violation in Malibu to the tune of $4.2 million. Several vote charts resulted, [http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/Meetings click here] to see how the Commissioner’s voted. '''Coastal Access Victory in Malibu''' A much-anticipated Malibu access case came before the California Coastal Commission at its December 8 meeting. At hand was the first recommendation from enforcement staff that the commission levy civil penalties, a power only granted to the agency by the state legislature in 2014. Due to the amount of time lapsed and the recalcitrance of the parties involved, staff asked commissioners to fine Dr. Warren M. Lent and his wife Henny $950,000 over their refusal to cease blocking the only vertical public access to Malibu’s Las Flores beach. Commissioners supported the action unequivocally, with Commissioner Effie Turnbull-Sanders pointing out that the Lents had “many opportunities” to resolve the issue over the past nine years and calling the case “particularly egregious” in regards to the impact on staff time. “This is a matter of justice,” she said. “What does access mean?” She called for the penalty amount to reflect the severity of violation and said the requested amount was “a little light.” Commission Mark Vargas spoke even more strongly regarding the appropriateness of “a lot more substantial” penalty and echoed the description of the case as “egregious,” as well as characteristic of many in Malibu who consider the beach their own private backyard. Commissioner Mary Shallenberger shared the sentiments of other commissioners, saying, “$950,000 doesn’t reflect the public’s loss, [nor that of] staff time and energy.” She asserted that she would not be supportive of any amount less than 50 percent. After further discussion, Commissioner Shallenberger motioned for a penalty of $6.5 million to be levied. The motion was supported by Commissioners Olga Diaz (Alternate for Commissioner Greg Cox), Carole Groom, Mary Luevano and Dayna Bochco, but opposed by Commissioners Martha McClure, Wendy Mitchell, Turnbull-Sanders, Robert Uranga and Vargas, thus failing. Commissioner Vargas then made a motion for a fine of $4.1 million to be levied, which was approved unanimously. [http://surfrider.org/coastal-blog/entry/huge-victory-for-coastal-access-in-california Read more about this victory here.] '''San Elijo Lagoon Restoration Approved''' Coastal recreationalists can give a resounding cheer after the Coastal Commission’s decision to extend surf monitoring to a full 12 months as part of approving the San Elijo Lagoon Restoration Project located within the San Elijo Lagoon State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) in San Diego County. Overall, the proposed restoration project is expected to significantly improve the circulation of the lagoon, water quality and the long-term biological productivity of coastal waters. It also takes sea level rise into account and is expected to decrease the number of flooding events on Manchester Ave. Staff recommended approval with a variety of special conditions to mitigate impacts associated with dredging and sediment placement. The Special Conditions direct the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy to track any impacts to the marine protected area with 5-year monitoring plans for ecological and biological impacts. Partner organization Surfrider Foundation’s San Diego County Chapter participated in the project design and asked for the inclusion of surf monitoring, which is reflected in Special Condition 9. Unfortunately, staff originally only recommended 30 days of post-development monitoring, subsequently extended to 6 months in an addendum. Given the length of monitoring other coastal resources were given, this expressly failed to equally value recreational resources. ActCoastal partner Surfrider Foundation gave testimony as to why 12 months of surf monitoring is necessary given the variability of conditions throughout all four seasons and the likelihood of a storm or swell even that can drastically change shoreline conditions overnight. During deliberation, Commissioner Mark Vargas took an interest in the project’s potential impacts to the nearby surfing resources saying, “It’s hard for people to visualize, but surf breaks like Swamis are basically the equivalent of Yosemite or Half Dome. They really are iconic treasures of California, and above that they are tourism drivers. People come from around the world to go swim and surf your breaks, so we have to be careful.” Commissioner Vargas then motioned to amend Special Condition 9 to extend surf monitoring for a full 12 months post construction. The Commission approved the project as amended and in doing so acknowledged the importance of surfing resources. This will also set an important precedent for the state of California and the need to protect recreational resources. '''Access at Long Last: Strands Beach''' The Dana Headlands development has been controversial from the start due to many environmental concerns, including development within environmentally sensitive habitat areas (ESHA) and loss of informal public access trails over the site. The development was also found to be inconsistent with the Coastal Act in a number of ways. For example, the Commission found it could only approve the HDCP (Headlands Development and Conservation Plan) by invoking the conflict resolution provisions of the Coastal Act. Specifically, the Commission found the pedestrian accessways to be a substantial benefit of the development; as a result, numerous provisions of the HDCP expressly limit the use of gates to restrict public access within the Headlands. Nonetheless, in 2009, before the development was even completed, at the request of the developer, the City of Dana Point attempted to limit the public access that had been the basis for approval of the development through various approaches, including the adoption of municipal ordinances that limited hours of use of the beach accessways and, most notably, installation of gates at the entrances to the beach accessways, all of which occurred without the necessary Coastal Development Permits (CDP). Staff and the City disagreed over the City’s actions and need for Coastal Act review. In 2010, Commission staff took the position that the City’s ordinance could be appealed – and from there, multiple lawsuits ensued. Ultimately the cases were consolidated, trials were conducted and judgments were entered and appealed. The judge concluded that the City failed to demonstrate an actual and unnecessary hazard existing at the site and the recent December hearing followed a settlement agreement for this litigation. [https://www.surfrider.org/coastal-blog/entry/access-at-long-last-strands-beach-access-settlement-agreement-affords-ample Read more about the settlement here.] But the City wanted to keep the gates installed on these accessways and allow them to be locked from midnight to 5 a.m., which again called into question the consistency of the entire Headlands development with the Coastal Act. Staff recommended that the Commission prohibit the use of gates for enforcement altogether, because the presence of gates, whether open or closed, can give the impression that the accessways are not available for public use. Commissioners Martha McClure, Mark Vargas, Robert Uranga and Steve Kinsey stated their support for overruling the staff recommendation and allowing the gates. As a result, they supported the motion to accept the amendment as submitted by the city. However, a majority of Commissioners agreed that gates should not be allowed, and supported the staff recommendation with a vote of 8-4. For more information on these and other important votes this month, please read the vote chart [http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/Meetings here]. The December Coastal Commission hearing will be held in San Luis Obispo County, January 11-13. You can view the agenda [https://coastal.ca.gov/mtgcurr.html here].  +
Desalination: issues for consideration and informational resources +[[File:Carlsbad_power_plant.jpg|thumb|left]] There are numerous proposals to build desalination facilities along California's coast and a 50 million gallon per day facility began operating in Carlsbad, California in December 2015. Desalination (desal) facilities have also been proposed in several other states including Texas and Hawaii and a facility has been built in Tampa, Florida. There seems to be a split between the dialogue heard on mainstream media, which largely focuses on the benefits of desal, and the dialogue amongst environmental and coastal protection organizations who are working to highlight the issues that come with the current over-enthusiastic embrace of the technology. The stated benefit of desal is primarily to provide a reliable new source of freshwater to supplement finite (or dwindling) existing sources that can not meet projected water demand. However, desal facilities can have several potential negative environmental impacts, depending upon where they are located, how they are designed and operated, and the end use of the produced water. In some cases, there are also concerns about "privatizing" what has always been a public resource, as well as additional complications if a private owner is a foreign entity. Listed below are some of the potential negative impacts of desal projects: '''1. Seawater Intake'''. There are several alternatives for gathering the "source" water for desalination: intake pipes in the ocean, beach wells (seawater aquifers) and intake galleries (collection systems buried beneath nearshore sediment). Unless the seawater intake is gathered from beach wells or galleries there is an inevitable destruction of marine life (fish and smaller marine life like eggs and larvae) as the water is drawn into the desal plant. "Impingement" is the term for the mortality of larger animals that are trapped and killed on the intake screens, and "[http://www.beachapedia.org/Entrainment entrainment]" refers to smaller organisms (e.g., larvae and eggs) that slip through the screens and are killed once they enter either the reverse osmosis membranes of the desal plant or the cooling condensers of an adjacent electric generating plant. '''2. Brine Discharge'''. Seawater contains about 35,000 parts per million (ppm) salt. During the reverse osmosis process, water molecules are forced through membranes while the salt particles are retained by the membrane and end up in a "reject stream" that is about twice as salty (70,000 ppm) as seawater. If this were discharged directly back into the ocean or into a coastal estuary there would likely be some negative impacts to sea life in the immediate area of the discharge. The impacts on marine life are, for the most part, dislocation of indigenous populations. For instance, the marine life normally found in the area of the discharge (the Zone of Initial Dilution ­ or ZID) might be displaced and the area re-inhabited by organisms more tolerant to dynamic salt concentrations and temperatures (e.g., estuarine species). Furthermore, the concentration of dead marine life in the discharge may attract an uncommon congregation of filter feeders and other scavengers. In short, the natural ecosystem is disrupted. The degree of disruption would be a site-specific determination and would depend on variables like ocean current, depth, and perhaps most importantly, how close the discharge is to sensitive and essential fish habitat. '''3. Growth Inducement?''' If the water produced from desal is used to reduce reliance on imported water and more water then ends up being retained in water source areas to help sustain the environment there, then desal may produce a net environmental benefit. If, on the other hand, the water not taken from these rivers is diverted to other users and the river ecosystem doesn't benefit, desal may not result in a net environmental benefit. And if the desal plant fuels new growth along the coast rather than just replacing imported water, it may contribute to overall environmental degradation. This question of whether water is for "replacement" or "new source" is at the heart of the question of "growth inducement." These direct and indirect concerns about growth inducement are difficult to quantify and analyze without the project proponent identifying the "end user" of the water supply. It is therefore important that any [http://www.beachapedia.org/NEPA,_CEQA,_and_EISs Environmental Impact Report (EIR)] or other environmental analysis of the project identify the end user(s). The EIR should also evaluate project alternatives that may have less environmental impact, including water conservation and recycling. '''4. Cost and Power Use'''. Desal is an expensive way to make water and uses a lot of electricity. Water must be pumped through special membranes at about 900 pounds per square inch (psi) pressure to remove the salt, then the water often must be pumped several miles to a water distribution network. Depending on the specific project proposed, water costs to consumers may go up at least 30% and could more than double. The required electrical energy is often produced by fossil fuel burning power plants that cause air pollution and contribute to global climate change. '''5. Alternative Sources of Potable Water''': As with any social choice, the determination to implement desalination facilities should be compared with other alternatives. Some of the possible alternatives include improved water conservation and greater implementation of wastewater reclamation. Water reclamation is the practice of treating wastewater to allow re-use of the water. Although there has been considerable controversy surrounding the use of reclaimed water as a source of drinking water, this practice (indirect potable reuse) has been implemented on a large scale. There are also many examples of successful programs that either use this water for irrigation (offsetting the need to use drinking water for this purpose), or for injection into groundwater aquifers (reducing the negative impacts from over-drafting our aquifers and/or reserving this water for potable uses in the future). Besides providing a lower-cost alternative to desalination, widespread implementation of reclamation could dramatically reduce the amount of partially treated or untreated wastewater being discharged into the ocean '''6. Private Ownership''': Historically, the ocean has been regarded as a public resource to be utilized and enjoyed by all people and animals in a sustainable, non-extractive manner. Using the ocean as a source of drinking water (clearly an extractive use) changes all that. While one desal facility may not have a significant effect on the ocean, many such facilities (see cumulative impacts discussion below) may have detrimental effects. Typically, most of the water supply infrastructure in the United States is owned and operated by public or semi-public agencies. Quality of the water, reliability of the water supply system, and the price of the delivered water are all subject to the scrutiny of various regulatory agencies, local governmental bodies, and the general public. A water supply system operated by a private company (perhaps a multinational company) may not be subject to the same restrictions. The company’s profit goals may encourage rate increases, reductions in quality, and promotion of more water use, as opposed to calls for more water conservation and recycling. The subject of ownership by a multinational private company raises additional concerns regarding potential challenges to U.S. laws that a multinational corporation might regard as restrictions on "free trade" or an undue limitation on their ability to make a profit. '''7. Cumulative Impacts''': An environmental analysis conducted under [http://www.beachapedia.org/NEPA,_CEQA,_and_EISs CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) or NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act)] should include an assessment of the cumulative impacts of not only the proposed project, but also other proposed projects (and existing facilities) in the area. These impacts would include the cumulative entrainment/impingement bioregion impacts, cumulative energy consumption impacts, cumulative growth-related impacts, and cumulative wastewater & urban runoff impacts, among others. This is especially important in areas where existing air quality, water quality or ecosystem health is already compromised. In California, as many as 21 new seawater desalination facilities have been proposed, with a cumulative production capacity of up to 240 million gallons per day. Some facilities are within a few miles of each other, potentially impacting the same bioregion of the ocean and/or other common environmental resources. These projects should not be reviewed in a vacuum. '''References and Additional Information Resources''' [http://www.epa.gov/cooling-water-intakes USEPA Guidance on cooling water intake structures] [http://www.newwatersupply.org New Water Supply Coalition (pro-desal water industry coalition)] The Pacific Institute released a comprehensive assessment of ocean desalination in 2006: Desalination: [http://pacinst.org/publication/desalination-with-a-grain-of-salt-a-california-perspective-2/ With a Grain of Salt] (by H. Cooley, P. Gleick, and G. Wolff). A follow-up report from Pacific Institute is [http://www.pacinst.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/desal-marine-imapcts-full-report.pdf Key Issues in Seawater Desalination in California - Marine Impacts] (2013). The Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC) published in 2007 their [http://www.mwdoc.com/documents/FinalDraftReport4-6-07.pdf findings from the pilot sub-seafloor intake study they conducted at Doheny Beach] in Dana Point, CA. [http://www.mwdoc.com/services/desalination More on the proposed seawater desalination facility in Dana Point]. Surfrider Foundation Know Your H2O [https://vimeo.com/10328536 Cycle of Insanity video]. Brief [http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/ask-pablo-whats-the-problem-with-desalination.html summary article on desalination] from Treehugger. [http://www.beachapedia.org/images/a/af/NRDCDesalinationWhitePaper.pdf Proceed With Caution - California's Drought and Seawater Desalination] (NRDC, May 2014). [http://www.beachapedia.org/images/9/94/SSRN-id2498938.pdf Rational Waste: The Political-Economy of Desalination], by David Zetland, Leiden University - Leiden University College, September 20, 2014. [http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/ocean/cwa316/ Ocean Standards, Cooling Water Intake Structures] (CA SWRCB). [http://www.ocwd.com/gwrs/ GWRS- indirect potable resuse] (OCWD). [http://www.sandiego.gov/water/purewater/ Pure Water San Diego Program] (City of San Diego). Please see the full article [http://beachapedia.org/Desalination here] on Beachapedia.org.  +
Diverse Coalition Requests Legislature Fund Coastal, Ocean, and Public Access Protection +<small><small>Article originally seen on [[IndyBay.org https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/06/29/18788349.php|IndyBay.org]] 6/29/2016.</small></small> Today, a large coalition of diverse organizations submitted a letter to Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia respectfully requesting that he provide at least $100 million in funding for each the Ocean Protection Council and State Coastal Conservancy in his proposed park bond, AB 2444. The letter states, “The viability of California’s parks system, and maintaining access to these areas for all communities, and particularly disadvantaged communities, is essential. A healthy ocean and coast are vital to our state’s future ecological and economic well-being, just as protecting and enhancing public access to our coastal commons for all Californians, regardless of ethnicity or economic background supports Californians’ quality of life.” It further states, “In public interest polls, 90% of Californians identify the coast as “personally important” to them - a result that is consistent across the state and across age, socioeconomic, and ethnic lines. California’s ocean and coast are our state’s most valuable natural capital, supporting a $40-billion ocean economy. However, the state’s marine ecosystems are threatened by habitat destruction, pollution, climate change, and overfishing.” The funding would ensure, among other things, children from urban and disadvantaged communities get the opportunity to explore the coast and learn about ocean science, and that our marine protected areas get the monitoring, study, and enforcement they need to thrive. The letter concluded by requesting that Asm. Garcia “please ensure that our underwater parks and coastal areas receive the support they need to remain a vibrant part of the lives of all Californians. Dedicating higher levels of funding to the OPC and State Coastal Conservancy and high priority coastal projects within AB 2444 would demonstrate California’s commitment to protecting, restoring, and ensuring access to the state’s coast, coastal trail, and ocean for all Californians and future generations.” The park bond will be finalized in the coming few weeks. Concerned Californian's are encouraged to contact their State Senator and Assemblymember to urge them to support this proposed funding in the park bond. ~~ IN OTHER COASTAL PROTECTION NEWS, both Coastal Commission bills aimed at improving and increasing transparency and accountability of how Coastal Commissioner communications are handled, including Senator Jackson’s SB 1190 and Assemblymembers Stone, Atkins and Levine’s AB 2002, have passed out of all necessary policy committees. The passage of both bills was expected, but opposition from developers' representatives, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Western States Petroleum Industry [Big Oil] was much more pronounced at the Committee hearings this week. The bills will be heard in the corresponding house's Appropriations Committees after the Legislature’s July recess. Additionally, AB 2616, as amended, by Assemblymember Autumn Burke, passed out of the Senate Natural Resources & Water Committee on Tuesday morning. The bill amends the California Coastal Act to incorporate the state’s existing definition of “environmental justice” as well as well as reference to anti-discrimination language. The bill keeps the size of the Coastal Commission at 12 voting members but requires that each appointing authority - the Assembly Speaker, Senate Rules Committee, and Governor - designate one of their four appointees as a person who lives or works in a disadvantaged community or with demonstrated experience advancing environmental justice matters. A letter of support is in the file linked below. Finally, Wednesday morning a diverse coalition of organizations presented a letter of support to San Diego Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez at the Senate’s Labor and Industrial Relations Committee hearing in support of her AB 1066 that would phase-in overtime pay for farmworkers. The letter states that, “We believe the time is long overdue to support and extend fair overtime compensation to hundreds of thousands of agricultural workers. In unity, we are proud to stand with our fellow Californians and urge passage of AB 1066 to advance the fairness of overtime pay for some of our hardest working residents.” All letters can be found here: http://www.dropbox.com/sh/aa0l8uyqhisdf0w/AADlxE0rxabamekA89Wb0DiWa?dl=0 by Amy Trainer, Deputy Director of the California Coastal Protection Network  +

E

Engaging California’s Diverse Community for Coastal Protection +'''''Zach Ploppler, Coastal and Marine Director for WILDCOAST, shares insight about organizing diverse communities to protect coastal resources. ''''' Much of the world sees California’s coastal communities as lavish mansion enclaves, surfing celebrities and scantily clad body augmentations of various sorts. This is unfortunate. Although Matthew McConaughey and Rob Lowe spend some time surfing Malibu’s Surfrider Beach, and access to much of Point Dume’s splendid shoreline is blocked by multi-million dollar abodes, California’s beaches are in fact for everyone. Pam Anderson and Gidget have likely never set a toe in the sand of some of the state’s most California-esque coastal stretches. These are beaches that serve the needs of local people who are not mansion dwellers nor have millionaire plastic surgeons on speed dial. These are beaches for you and for me and California’s continuously burgeoning diverse communities. One such community is Imperial Beach, the most southwestern city in the continental United States. A literal stone’s throw from Mexico, IB is one of the state’s most diverse coastal communities. It is also one of the lowest income coastal cities in California. Yet, it has some Southern California’s most stunning and ecologically significant areas. It is home to the Tijuana River Valley, Southern California’s last intact coastal wetland, as well as the Tijuana River Mouth State Marine Conservation Area. These sites provide critical refuge on the Pacific flyway for an abundance of avian wildlife, leopard shark breeding grounds, one of Southern California’s few cobble reefs and a popular spot for bottlenose dolphins. They also provide incredible and unique recreational and educational opportunities for the region’s park poor and underserved communities. As one of the few binational environmental groups that works on both sides of the US – Mexico border and firmly rooted in the diverse communities of South San Diego County, WILDCOAST has years of experience engaging and mobilizing communities not typically associated with the “Southern California” beach scene. The residents of South San Diego County, and of many communities across the state, have often been excluded from the coastal planning process due to language, cultural, economic and other barriers. A deficiency in information targeted to these communities and most importantly, a lack of opportunities to engage in the appreciation and stewardship of local natural areas also inhibit usage and participation in protecting these places. To engage South San Diego residents, WILDCOAST and partner organizations coordinate an array of activities, from surf contests to massive watershed cleanups. The San Ysidro Girl Scout Troop are active data collectors in a Junior MPA Watch Program. Hundreds of local residents participate in the Tijuana River Action Month (TRAM) when on average 300 waste tires and 20,000 pounds of trash are removed from the river valley before they reach the estuary and Pacific Ocean. Among the participants in activities such as TRAM are members of partner organization Outdoor Outreach, whose adventure clubs include many recent arrivals to San Diego from Burma, Nepal, Somalia, Vietnam and Latin America. Others have spent their whole life in San Diego and before the adventure club program, had never been to the County’s beaches. The seeds planted, big and small, through these experiences are integral to the long-term conservation of these areas as populations continue to shift and diversify and new pressures arise. The underserved communities and youth that surf the waves of Imperial Beach in ocean festivals and clean the Tijuana River Valley are instrumental to campaigns to better manage our coastal resources. They joined WILDCOAST, Surfrider Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council and many partners at Coastal Commission hearings to prevent the 241 toll road from extending through California’s fifth most popular state park and the San Mateo Creek watershed. They are implementing California’s new network of Marine Protected Areas by collecting data on how people use the coastline, by removing tens of thousands of pounds of ocean-bound trash and by enjoying recreational opportunities found in the region’s beaches and wetlands. The Coastal Commission is supporting these efforts through a grant to Outdoor Outreach to facilitate the inclusion of the underserved communities in which the organization works and to build the future generation of coastal and marine stewards. Imperial Beach is a Southern California seashore community. Although Luke Perry did walk its shores in the filming of the HBO series John from Cincinnati, it is not what the rest of the world may typically associate with our precious coastline. IB’s population is forty-nine percent Latino. The median household income is less than fifty thousand dollars. It is closer to downtown Tijuana than it is to downtown San Diego and it experiences some of the worst water quality issues in North America. But it is a quintessential Southern California beach town. And its residents and youth, from around the world and across the socioeconomic spectrum, are saving our region’s precious coastal resources, for you and for me. Zach is the Coastal and Marine Director for WILDCOAST and is in charge of all matters related to San Diego County’s Marine Protected Areas. He joined the WILDCOAST team in 2008 to manage the Valle de los Cirios Pacific Coast land conservation project where he helped drive the protection of over 33,000 acres of pristine shoreline on the Baja California Peninsula. Zach holds a Bachelor Degree in Urban Studies and Planning from the University of California – San Diego and a Master Degree in Urban Planning from the University of California – Los Angeles. Zach is a native of San Diego with over 23 years of water time on the San Diego coastline.  +
Ex Parte: Critical Public Involvement in a Public Process +[[File:balance_justice.jpg|thumb|right]] '''''One-sided ex parte communications prior to the Coastal Commission’s Broad Beach decision highlight the need for attention to the Coastal Act’s protections for transparency and public participation''''' Stewardship of California’s coast is a public matter and responsibility, in addition to being a legal responsibility of California Coastal Commissioners, Commission staff, and local governments. This shared responsibility is enshrined in the Coastal Act’s strong policy favoring open and impartial decision-making and public participation in the Commission’s deliberations and actions: The people of California find and declare that the duties, responsibilities, and quasi-judicial actions of the commission are sensitive and extremely important for the well-being of current and future generations and that '''the public interest and principles of fundamental fairness and due process of law require that the commission conduct its affairs in an open, objective, and impartial manner free of undue influence and the abuse of power and authority'''. It is further found that, to be effective, California’s coastal protection program requires public awareness, understanding, support, participation, and confidence in the commission and its practices and procedures… The people of California further find that in a democracy, due process, fairness, and the responsible exercise of authority are all essential elements of good government which '''require that the public’s business be conducted in public meetings … and on the official record'''. Reasonable restrictions are necessary and proper to prevent future abuses and misuse of governmental power '''so long as all members of the public are given adequate opportunities to present their views and opinions to the commission through written or oral communications on the official record either before or during the public hearing on any matter before the commission'''. ''(California Coastal Act, Public Resources Code Section 30320.)'' This policy informs the Commission’s traditional great respect for transparency and public participation at its hearings. Not only are these features necessary for the Commission to comply with legal fairness and due process requirements; they also foster public support of the Commission’s mission and decisions. This policy is also intended to shape Commissioners’ engagement in ex parte communications with interested persons outside of public meetings. Specifically, it dictates that if Commissioners decide to engage in ex parte communications with some interested persons, they should be open to having such communications with all. The Coastal Act itself defines “interested persons” not only as permit applicants, but as representatives of “any civic, environmental, neighborhood, business, labor, trade, or similar organization” that, like a permit applicant, may want to inform the Commission’s decision on a matter. ''(See Coastal Act Sections 30322 and 30323.)'' Unfortunately, such transparency and openness to public participation were sorely lacking in the lead-up to the Commission’s Broad Beach hearing. When representatives of conservation and citizens’ organizations requested ex parte meetings prior to the hearing – just as the permit applicant and its representatives were doing – multiple commissioners refused to meet or simply did not respond to the groups’ inquiries. However, when asked to summarize their ex parte communications at the beginning of the hearing, the same Commissioners disclosed that they had engaged in multiple ex parte communications with the applicant. These one-sided ex parte communications cast unfortunate shade over the public’s participation and trust in the Coastal Commission’s decision on the Broad Beach matter. Commissioners can and should do better. A close reading of Coastal Act Section 30320 would be a great place to start.  +
(previous 25) (next 25)