San Clemente LUP Update


February 1, 2018

The LCP amendment consists of a comprehensive update to the certified City of San Clemente Land Use Plan (LUP), including the alignment of the California Coastal Trail, alternative parking strategies, limitations on preferential parking, protection of existing and provision of affordable overnight accommodations and more.

In addition, the staff’s proposed modifications address coastal hazards and the need to limit the construction of coastal protective devices and to remove such devices when feasible, require a waiver of future shoreline protection for new development or redevelopment, include mitigation for impacts to sand supply and public access and recreation from such devices and more. These policies are in response to the Commission’s 2015 Sea Level Rise Guidance and the state’s efforts to support local plans for climate change adaptation.

There was only one unresolved suggested modification that the City was in opposition to. The Coastal Commission staff recommendation included the definition of existing development as pre-Coastal Act (January 1, 1977). The City currently interprets section 30235 of Chapter 3 of the Coastal Act to mean that existing structures at present time are entitled to shoreline armoring.

Ultimately, Commissioners approved staff’s suggested modifications with one amendment - to revisit the definition of existing development in the City’s implementation plan.

Why You Should Care

The subject comprehensive LUP update is the first to be acted on by the Commission since adoption of the 2015 Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance and will set an important precedent.

One of the most significant ways to protect our public beaches and coastal habitats is to include the definition of existing development as it was originally intended by the legislature in local planning documents. No development built after the Coastal Act is entitled to shoreline armoring and all new development must waive its rights to armoring.


Pro-Coast Vote

Anti-Coast Vote

Commissioner Steve Padilla expressed his support for the City’s position to exclude the definition of existing development. Several Commissioners agreed and were concerned about the LUP failing to be certified by the City council. Commissioners Erik Howell and Carole Groom agreed and added that the 2015 Sea Level Rise Guidance document should not be enforced as regulations.

Commissioner Donne Brownsey vehemently countered Commissioner Padilla’s viewpoint and access to our beaches for all Californians. She pointed out that the Commission had a full and robust debate over the 2015 guidance policy for sea level rise to reflect the best available science and how to interpret Coastal Act policies. Indeed, the threat of sea level rise and coastal hazards needs to be addressed in our policies today. Ultimately, Commissioners unanimously approved staff’s suggested modifications with one amendment - to exclude and revisit the definition of existing development in the City’s implementation plan.

Organizations Opposed

Surfrider Foundation

Decision Type

Land Use Plan Update

Staff Recommendation

Approval with modifications