Capistrano Beach Interim Armoring Permit


December 1, 2020

On Wednesday, the Coastal Commission considered a two to five year permit request by Orange County Parks for the installation of new sandcube and riprap armoring to protect a parking lot and bike path at Capistrano Beach County Park in Dana Point. Included in the application was also after-the -fact authorization for removal work authorized under multiple emergency permits that were previously granted in response to damage caused by winter storms and high tide events at Capistrano Beach. Between 2004 and 2020, eight emergency permits were issued to OC Parks for work at this location, six of which were issued within the last five years. Coastal Commission staff recommended approval for two years with the condition that no new riprap armoring is allowed. The Surfrider Foundation raised concerns with approval of the permit stating the history of misuse of the emergency permit system and the need for a comprehensive retreat and living shoreline approach rather than perpetuating the unsafe conditions that continue to increase beach erosion. Commissioners approved the permit for a one year duration, with the possibility of extension for another one year based on OC Parks’ progress towards a long term shoreline management plan.

Why You Should Care

An additional two-to-five years delay will only cause further erosion and unsafe conditions at Capistrano Beach. OC Parks should be required to: 1.) submit their plan at this time for managed retreat and a living shoreline, and, 2.) remove the crumbling parking area and mitigate the loss of beach space once and for all. The Commission should have sent a clear message that emergency permits are not substitutes for long-term planning.


Pro-Coast Vote

Anti-Coast Vote

Commissioner Sara Aminzadeh raised safety concerns and pointed out the short sighted approach of utilizing emergency permits to manage the eroding beach. Commission Mike Wilson astutely pointed out that really a more comprehensive approach for managing the beach would be appropriate here by including the private Beach Road homeowners in a holistic solution. Commissioner Linda Escalante agreed with Commissioner Aminzadeh that the County’s approach has kicked the can down the road further and further is not appropriate. Commissioner Hart suggested shortening the permit duration to one year with a 6 month progress report on the long term plan development for the beach. This permit was approved 8-2 with Commissioners and Aminzadeh and Escalante in opposition.

Organizations Opposed

Surfrider Foundation

Decision Type

Coastal Development Permit

Staff Recommendation

Approval with Conditions

Coastal Act Policy