Santa Cruz Rail Trail - Seawall


December 1, 2021

On Thursday, the Coastal Commission approved a consistency determination for a proposed 7.5 mile multi-use pedestrian trail that will run from Wilder Ranch State Park to Davenport in Santa Cruz County along the railroad corridor. The project was broady supported by local agencies and the general public. The staff recommendation included two controversial conditions to the proposed project; those included a prohibition on shoreline armoring for the trail and for unrestricted 24 hour access to the trail. The applicants convinced the Commission at the hearing that a seawall was necessary for a portion of the trail in Davenport and that condition was removed and replaced with language encouraging analysis for a long term plan to remove the armoring if possible in the future. This item resulted in extensive deliberations and two vote charts - one for the vote on the seawall change in conditions and one for the vote on unlimited access. Both votes were motioned by Commissioner Caryl Hart and seconded by Carole Groom.

Why You Should Care

We should not sacrifice our public beaches for access near the beach. This coastal trail could have been rerouted for a small portion of the trail to avoid the need for armoring.


Pro-Coast Vote

Anti-Coast Vote

Commissioner Shelley Luce, the lone dissenting vote, agreed with Surfrider’s concerns that if we put a hard structure on the beach to armor access to or along the beach we may ironically lose the beach we are trying to protect. Vice Chair Caryl Hart championed the notion that the applicant’s seawall proposal seems like an ok exception as there “are likely impacts for other alternatives.” Chair Donne Brownsey agreed and helped incorporate and rewrite the staff recommendation from the dias to allow for shoreline armoring. The motion passed in a 9-1 vote.

Organizations Opposed

Surfrider Foundation

Decision Type

Consistency Certification

Staff Recommendation

Approval with Conditions

Coastal Act Policy