This was an appeal of a City-approved project that would allow for the construction of two buildings containing a total of seven condominium units on a half-acre lot on Beach Boulevard in Pacifica. The property would have fronted an abandoned portion of Beach Boulevard to the seaward side. Coastal Commission staff, as well as the applicant’s own coastal hazard experts, concluded that the entire development would be subject to coastal hazards within its lifetime and would rely on the existing riprap seawall. Staff recommended utilizing a policy within the City’s LCP that allows for minimum viable economic development in cases where an entire lot is subject to coastal hazards. Thus, the staff recommendation included increasing the setback from the City’s permit that would allow space for 3-4 condominium units. The Surfrider Foundation and several local residents argued that approval as such would create a loophole in the Coastal Act, setting a precedent by which the prohibition against armoring new development could become meaningless. New development must not be allowed to rely on existing shoreline armoring regardless of who owns, manages or maintains the seawall. The entire proposal was denied in a split 6-5 vote.
Why You Should Care
Development on this site, or anywhere in a coastal hazard zone, that will perpetuate reliance upon an existing seawall will perpetuate its lifespan and should be denied. Reliance on shoreline armoring will result in the complete and total loss of the adjacent beach for private benefit at the enormous expense of the public’s resources. Instead, we should focus on locating and relocating development away from the hazardous areas and restore natural shoreline processes so there will be a beach for all to enjoy!
Negative Conservation Vote
Commissioners expressed concern about the safety of the proposed development, especially during storm events, as the proposed design lacked an escape route. Commissioner Donne Brownsey mentioned during deliberation that she is reluctant to approve something where specific plans do not yet exist. Commissioner Mike Wilson agreed and mentioned he is anxious about the location and safety concerns. Other Commissioners were less concerned with the risks of the site and the perpetuation of the shoreline armoring. Commissioner Steve Padilla mentioned that, “what is relevant are the existing circumstances. Applicant doesn’t have control over shoreline armoring.”
Surfrider Foundation, GRG/Pacific Ventures, Ltd. and Nicholas Langhoff
De Novo Appeal
Approval with Conditions