Setbacks in Solana Beach - Harris


October 1, 2018

The Coastal Commission reviewed a permit application for a remodel of an existing blufftop home in Solana Beach. Coastal Commission staff recommended denial of the application since the majority of the development would be located in a non-conforming, hazardous location. There is currently no shoreline protection below the existing home. While the proposed alterations do not constitute “redevelopment”, they will extend the economic life of the structure in a hazardous location, seaward of the City’s Geologic Setback Line (GSL). The GSL factors in sea level rise and future bluff erosion rates as well as historic rates of erosion. Repair and maintenance of the structure is permitted and the applicant could potentially redevelop the site and construct a home with a significantly larger setback from the bluff edge than currently exists.

Commissioners agreed with staff and unanimously denied the project.

Why You Should Care

If blufftop properties are allowed to increase the degree of non-conformity of bluff top structures by undertaking substantial improvements seaward of the GLS and thus extending the life of the structures indefinitely, eventually the structures will require shoreline protection. As the coastline of Solana Beach continues to become more fortified and sea levels continue to rise, it will be even more likely that the public beach fronting the bluffs will become inaccessible at all but the lowest tides.


Pro-Coast Vote

Anti-Coast Vote

Robust discussion amongst commissioners and driven by Chair Dayna Bochco was focused on concern over consistency of decisions especially with regard to perpetuating non-conforming uses that does not necessarily make a structure more vulnerable or unsafe to coastal hazards. Commissioner Sara Aminzadeh motioned to approve the denial as staff recommended and Commissioners unanimously approved the motion.

Organizations Opposed

Decision Type

Coastal Development Permit

Staff Recommendation


Coastal Act Policy