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2013/December +The December meeting was relatively non-controversial. On Wednesday the Commission unanimously elected new leadership. Steve Kinsey moved up from Vice-Chair to the Chair and Jana Zimmer was elected as Vice-Chair, thus providing leadership from both Northern and Southern California. The Commission ensured that future review of a Pismo Beach seawall, permitted last January to protect a sewage pump station, will consider all Coastal Act policies, including impacts on public access, recreation, sand supply, and marine resources. On Thursday, the Commission meeting was centered around a new draft guidance document for adaptation to sea level rise.  +
2013/November +This November was the most significant Commission meeting in 2013. A packed agenda with several controversial items drew hundreds of people. Developers had to pull their plan for a Huntington Beach desalination plant that would have killed large amounts of ocean life. The Del Mar Fairgrounds were granted continued use of a huge parking lot, illegally built in a wetland. The Army Corps got a green light for a major sand-dredging, beach-creation project with big impacts on ocean life and surfing resources. Sea level rise issues in Solana Beach- seawalls and a controversial Land Use Plan were continued. The Commission also had a spirited debate with itself and the public on the level of metrics and progress reports that staff should provide to track progress on the CCC Strategic Plan.  +
2013/October +The October Coastal Commission hearing was held in San Diego. Highly contentious votes were held on the expansion of the San Diego Convention Center and a proposal from Mitt Romney to construct a massive home on the coast in La Jolla. Other controversial items included a request by Pepperdine University to flood a sensitive coastal canyon habitat with light pollution from its athletic fields and a proposal to pave wetlands at the Del Mar Fairgrounds to expand parking lots. These two environmentally destructive items were discussed but continued to future meetings.  +
2013/September +The September hearing was held in Eureka. One of the more controversial issues was the “Eureka – Arcata Route 101 Project”, that was amended during the hearing to reach a compromise that locals considered a “win-win”. Other agenda items spurred discussion amongst the Commissions about the importance of compliance with Local Coastal Plans (LCP) and Land Use Plans (LUP).  +
2014/April +The April meeting was lengthy and contained several contentious items. The Commission approved two projects that were strongly contested by coastal advocates—one project in Monterey for a mega-resort to be “built into” eroding dunes on sensitive habitat; and another project in Santa Barbara that will also be constructed on important coastal lands near a seal rookery and nesting areas for the White-Tail Kite. The Santa Barbara project was exceptionally controversial and disappointing because the Commission followed atypical procedures that effectively closed the public hearing, yet the Commission continued to negotiate with the developer from the dais. One positive outcome was the Commission’s vote to approve the Santa Monica Mountains Land Use Plan (LUP), which drew hundreds of people in attendance supporting the LUP. Another highlight was the denial of a new hotel in Long Beach that would have eliminated low cost rooms in exchange for high-end rooms. [[Governor_Appoints_New_Commissioner|New Commissioner Erik Howell]] participated in this meeting and Jeff DuClos voted as Robert Garcia’s alternate.  +
2014/August +The August hearing was held in San Diego. The “Children’s Pool” issue was heard and the Commission voted to allow the City of San Diego to update the Land Use Plan to incorporate additional resource protections during the Harbor Seal pupping season. The Commission also grappled with a dispute resolution where an Applicant was appealing the Executive Director’s decision that the application is incomplete—because the proposed project is located on a public easement, the debate was very interesting. The most controversial item, the “Broad Beach” application, was postponed. The item is now scheduled for the October meeting where the Commission will consider homeowners requests to retain a large, unpermitted rock revetment and conduct a large-scale beach nourishment project that will impact public access and harm Marine Protected Areas.  +
2014/December +The December hearing was held in Monterey. There were two important issues on the agenda. One was a “public workshop” regarding low-to-moderate cost accommodations along the coast. View a [[The Coastal Commission Tackles A Social Justice Issue|blog]] recapping the issue. The second important item was an application for a rock revetment and massive sand replenishment project in Broad Beach, Malibu. After an extensive seven-hour hearing, project proponents pulled their application after it was clear the Commission had major reservations about the sustainability of the project. View a [[The Shrinking Reality at Broad Beach|blog]] summarizing the issue and the lively debate that took place at the hearing. Outside of these two important issues, there were no major “conservation votes” to score this month.  +
2014/February +Given that the controversial “Eco-Resort” in Monterey Bay Shores was postponed, the February CCC meeting did not contain high priority conservation votes. However, the Coastal Commission held an in-depth discussion about oil and gas hydraulic fracking activities in California state and federal waters, which included a [http://www.coastal.ca.gov/pdf/W7a-2-2014_Fracking%20Briefing.pdf detailed report] from CCC Staff. Visit the [[Blog|ActCoastal blog page]] to read a full analysis of the fracking discussion as well as another post discussing seawall policy. This was [[Governor Brown Appoints Excellent new Commissioner|Effie Turnbull Sanders' first meeting]].  +
2014/January +The January hearing covered several complex items that prompted in-depth dialogue amongst the Commission. On Wednesday, the Commission had an important, and lengthy, conversation about the disbursement of grants to local communities to establish and/or update Local Coastal Plans. Another debate centered around a Land Use Plan in Solana Beach, where local residents advocated that seawalls on public land should not be permitted to exist in perpetuity and must be incrementally reviewed to identify and mitigate impacts on beaches and public access. The Commission also approved an oyster aquaculture facility approximately 8.5 miles offshore of Long Beach. The controversial “Ridge” property issue in Huntington Beach that would convert open space to residential development was postponed, at the request of applicant.  +
2014/July +The July hearing contained a few items that were laden with controversy and debate. Coastal advocates were pleased the County of Los Angeles’s Local Implementation Plan (LIP) for the Santa Monica Mountains segment was officially adopted. This area of L.A. County had been one of the largest areas of the coast without a certified LCP. The implementation of a new LCP will protect watershed and coastal resources. There was a Cease and Desist Order that required property owners to stop blocking public access to the beach and Ontario Ridge Trail by removing unpermitted fences, gates, and signs. There was also an item to expand hotel construction at the San Diego Port, the Commission rightly pointed out the lack of availability of low-to-moderate income rooms; after much debate, the applicant withdrew the application (see a blog here). Finally there was a very controversial item relating to the Trump National Golf Course (be sure to read the write-up on the issue).  +
2014/June +The June hearing contained several controversial and emotionally charged items. The City of Huntington Beach requested to amend their Local Coastal Program by changing the land use designation from Open Space/Parks to Residential Low Density and the zoning from Residential Agriculture to Residential Low Density. The item was extremely heated—throngs of people testified that new development would impact coastal resources and Native American lands that contain sacred artifacts and burial sites. After hours of testimony, the City withdrew their application and will resubmit to Commission at a later date. Two shoreline protection items for San Diego were heard, Goetz and Bannasch. The Commission voted to continue Goetz and unfortunately approved the Bannasch shoreline protection application, which raised many concerns for local coastal advocates who argued that expanding sea caves by 92 feet along an unarmored bluff constitutes a seawall and must be denied. Finally, Commission Staff provided a briefing on the appeals process. Bowman voted for Cox, Pestor voted for Shallenberger and Song voted for Vargas as alternates.  +
2014/March +The March hearing did not produce any high priority conservation votes. An item to repair and expand five existing '''seacave/notch infills in Solana Beach was postponed''' at the last minute by the applicant. Coastal advocates are following this issue closely because there are many concerns about “erodible concrete” not eroding at the same rate as the natural bluffs and the “expansion” of existing seacaves is so extensive that some advocates believe it should be classified “new development.” Another highlight of the March meeting included a legislative update by Commission Staff. Each year, Commission Staff monitors bills that could impact the coastal zone. Of particular interest is a piece of legislation that seeks to re-establish public access to Martin’s Beach, a popular Northern California beach that was closed off after a Silicon Valley billionaire bought the adjacent land.  +
2014/May +The May hearing contained several interesting items and important briefings by Coastal Commission Staff. The controversial Marin County LCP Update drew several local residents in attendance. Concerned citizens testified that the LCP update would allow for more residential and commercial development in the Coastal-Agriculture Zone district almost entirely without public hearings and with no public right of appeal to the Coastal Commission. The Commission voted to approve the LCP update. The Commission heard another controversial item regarding an appeal in Santa Barbara County. The property in question is a bluff-top estate with several pre-Coastal Act non-conforming structures including a cabana located in the middle of an eroding bluff. Fortunately, the Commission unanimously found Substantial Issue and will assume jurisdiction over the permit. The Department of Fish and Wildlife and Ocean Protection Council provided a briefing on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The briefing provided an overview of the MPA network and areas where state agencies are working together to protect these special places. Finally, the Executive Director provided a comprehensive briefing about the current strategic plan and covered areas of progress during the first year of implementation.  +
2014/November +The November hearing was held in beautiful Half Moon Bay. In addition to hearing a large development project put forth by the Navy, the Commission held a several-hour hearing regarding a permit for subsurface “test wells” at a proposed desalination plant in Monterey Peninsula. The Commission voted to approve the test wells. Many local community members spoke in favor of the test wells because Monterey Peninsula has exhausted all conservation efforts to broaden its water portfolio and seawater desalination is the last resort. Several environmental, business, and agriculture organizations supported the “test wells” because subsurface intake is the most environmentally superior technology compared to “open ocean intakes” which significantly harm marine life.  +
2014/October +The October hearing was held in Newport Beach. The agenda was packed with several interesting issues including an application to conduct dredging near the Encina Power Plant in San Diego in which the Commission recommended analyzing alternative locations for sand deposition. Another important agenda item touched on low-income housing in the coastal zone and the need for the Commission to encourage applications that contain affordable housing. Finally the Commission struggled with an item of replacing an interpretive center at Crystal Cove State Beach in Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas.  +
2014/September +The September meeting was held in Crescent City. The agenda did not contain any critical conversation votes. However there was an interesting presentation from consultants working on sea level rise issues in Humboldt Bay. The presentation focused on the unique problems associated with sea level rise in the area. Inundation of farmlands and critical infrastructure are already occurring— highlighting the need to codify and implement the Commission’s Guidance Document on sea level rise. Director Lester announced that the Commission staff will hold a ’workshop’ on lower cost affordable accommodations in December. Low cost accommodations are increasingly disappearing along the coast and it is imperative the Commission analyze ways to maintain and increase the ability for all Californians to enjoy the coast.  +
2015/April +The April hearing was held in Marin County. The agenda was lengthy and contained several interesting items. The item that drew the most attention was an application by the Department of Parks and Recreation to install new station throughout several beaches in Sonoma County.  +
2015/August +The City of Chula Vista was host to the August hearing. This was a particularly significant hearing as the Commission unanimously adopted the Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance document. This document, which went through two rounds of drafting and public comment in October 2013 and May 2015, offers the best available science on sea level rise (SLR) for California and recommendations for addressing SLR within the context of the Coastal Act. The document and related information can be found on the Coastal Commission website. Another significant issue addressed is that of public access. This was seen through the specific issue of availability of affordable accommodations through the Port of San Diego's application for its project driven Port Master Plan Amendment that would allow for further high quality hotels to be developed along the San Diego Bay. Public access was also addressed through another application for a LCP Amendment that would allow for a new land use designation of bluffs in Malibu- changing from commercial visitor-serving use to mixed residential-recreational. Also heard was an application for an after-the-fact CDP for a recycling facility that had been operating prior to having even applied for an application and while receiving letters of violation for unpermitted development.  +
2015/December +December’s Coastal Commission hearing, held in Monterey, was alive with public comment. Several Monterey residents attended Wednesday's meeting to speak on a desalination plant proposed by California American Water during the public comment period. Concerns ranged from discrepancies in testing reports to a perceived lack of evidence backing Cal Am's claimed testing results. The controversy regarding the project will likely continue during the months to come. A number of individuals testified before the CCC asking they address the “severe degradation” caused by the CEMEX sand mining activities in southern Monterey Bay. Local citizens presented pictures of the rapidly diminishing beach and flooding due to the extensive sand mining. Surfrider representatives were among the many that spoke during public comment to discuss the “take of a public resource,” appealing for the Commission to take action. Items of concern that were voted on during the hearing include the “Edge” development in Malibu of five residential properties in the Santa Monica Mountains; the longtime-in-the-making cease-and-desist – as well as the restoration – order for the Fred Segal Foundation camp in the Santa Monica Mountains; and the USC application to install an oyster aquaculture research facility in the Cat Harbor State Marine Conservation Area off Catalina Island. “The Edge” development is commonly called so after the U2 guitarist who has been pursuing building several homes at least 10,000 square feet in size for the last decade in an otherwise undeveloped area of Malibu. During this time, environmental groups have fought the development. Through their efforts, the disturbance area of the project has been reduced by 43 percent, but the fact remains that this development is occurring in environmentally sensitive habitat areas (ESHA). Since the purchase of the property in the early 1980s, the Fred Segal Foundation property has had a number of unpermitted developments including: the unpermitted subdivision of the lot; unpermitted placement of structures and infrastructure; removal of vegetation and more. This is significant as a large portion of the area is environmentally sensitive habitat area, and the development has resulted in the clearance of and impacts to sensitive habitat in the Santa Monica Mountains. The University of Southern California Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies (USC-WIES) applied for a permit to install and operate a shellfish aquaculture research facility for five years within a state-designated Marine Protected Area (MPA) located in Catalina Harbor. Environmental groups expressed significant concern over such development happening within an MPA and the fact that the project uses non-native oysters –thus introducing a potentially invasive species to a protected marine habitat.  +
2015/February +The February hearing was held in Pismo Beach. A few items on the agenda spurred much debate including the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area CDP. State Parks and other resource agencies have been struggling with management and use of area to settle conflicts between recreational uses and protection of sensitive resources. The Commission also heard an item to “re-start’ the Santa Barbara Desalination plant. The plant was built in the 1990s and was shut down shortly after because the drought has subsided and the plant was not deemed necessary. While the item was considered ‘repair of an existing structure’ many concerned citizens expressed apprehensions about impacts to the marine environment when the plant is started up again.  +
2015/January +The January hearing was held in Santa Monica. The packed agenda included a controversial proposal to upgrade and add rooms to a hotel in Laguna Beach. Many concerned members of the public attended the hearing to testify on the controversial project.  +
2015/July +[[File:Half_Moon_Bay_Beach.jpg|thumb|left]] No conservation votes were selected for this hearing. However, there was an interesting discussion regarding updating resource and habitat maps in Half Moon Bay. [http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/July_Hearing_HMB_Maps Click here] to review a blog recapping the interesting debate.  +
2015/June +[[File:Refugio_Joshua_Shelly_001.jpg|thumb|left]] No conservation votes were selected for this meeting. However, two important issues were discussed before the Commission--the Commission's Sea Level Rise Guidance Document and an informational update on the oil spill at Refugio State Beach. Visit the following blogs section of ActCoastal to review blogs about the spill.  +
2015/March +The March hearing was held in Chula Vista, CA. Once again, the Commission was faced with another item to preserve lower-cost overnight accommodations.  +
2015/May +The May hearing was held in Santa Barbara. Several complicated issues dominated the agenda. A Coastal Development Permit (CDP) application was brought forth to retain a rock revetment at Goleta Beach, near Santa Barbara. Opinions were divided amongst the local community and environmental advocates—with some wanting to keep the rock revetment, and others supporting its removal. In the end, the Commission voted to retain the rock revetment. Sweetwater Mesa was another controversial project before the Commission at this hearing. The Commission previously denied this multi-dwelling project (and has been to court with the Applicant). Over the years, opponents have objected to the development because it would impact extremely sensitive habitat. Recently opponents raised concerns that the project will undermine the recently adopted Santa Monica Mountains LCP that specifically protects sensitive habitat and view sheds. Finally, two other interesting items are highlighted in this vote chart—a dispute resolution regarding the Monterey Bay Shores Project and the federal consistency determination to allow in-water restoration work to begin at Drakes Estero Wilderness area in Point Reyes National Seashore.  +
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