On Thursday, the Commission approved an overdue managed retreat project at Haskell’s Beach in Goleta at the Ritz-Carlton hotel. The hotel had retained a seawall long after its emergency permit had expired four and half years ago, to protect a “Beach House” structure including restrooms and showers. Under new ownership, the hotel worked with Coastal Commission staff on a plan to relocate the restroom structure inland, away from the coastal hazard sea level rise flood zone and agreed to continue migrating inland, away from rising seas as needed. As mitigation for several years of damage to the beach, Commission staff recommended the hotel dedicated a public access deed restriction, additional visitor serving amenities and a $45,000 contribution for the restoration of Tecolote Creek. The Surfrider Foundation asked the Commission to require more substantial mitigation for the years of damage to the beach and sediment supply at Haskell’s and more direct mitigation that would help restore the beach such as a living shoreline project. Commissioners agreed that a more substantial penalty for the unpermitted seawall was warranted. Commissioner Sara Aminzadeh suggested increasing the contribution to $100,000 for restoration of Tecolote Canyon. Staff and the applicant agreed and the permit was approved with the increased contribution in a 10 to 1 vote, Commissioner Erik Howell the sole “no” vote.
Why You Should Care
If the Commission does not issue substantial penalties for the abuse of emergency permits, applicants will continue to violate the duration terms and coastal armoring intended to be temporary will continue to become de facto permanent armoring.
Negative Conservation Vote
Commissioner Sara Aminzadeh noted that the Commission has the authority to assess fees of up to $11,000 a day for violations of public access and the suggested $45,000 restoration contribution is too modest. Commissioner Mike Wilson agreed and added that a restoration fee of $150,000 to $200,000 would be more appropriate.
Surfrider Foundation, Gaviota Coast Conservancy
Coastal Development Permit
Approval with conditions