April 2019 Hearing Report

Mandy Sackett
May 16, 2019
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April Hearing Report

The Coastal Commission’s April hearing took place in Salinas at the Monterey County Board of Supervisors Chambers on Wednesday, April 10 and Thursday, April 11. The abbreviated two-day agenda featured important coastal issues including an enforcement item addressing illegal fill of wetlands in Marin County, the reconstruction of an armoring structure in Capitola and a nonconforming bluff development in Laguna Beach.

Capitola Jetty

On Wednesday morning, Commissioners unanimously approved a permit to rehabilitate a groin, known as the Capitola Jetty, in the City of Capitola. Surfrider expressed concern with the perpetuation of hard armoring at Capitola Beach, as well as the insufficient alternatives analysis and lack of sea level rise analysis. The groin does provide an important beach access opportunity by trapping sand that would otherwise erode as well as forming a wave that is revered by the local surfing community and apparently has minimal impacts down coast.

Given all these factors, Surfrider chose not to oppose reconstruction of the jetty but to instead ask staff to require a more robust alternatives analysis, including living shorelines, as part of the five-year reporting requirement – studies suggest that in the future there may be additional options that will provide more of a multi-benefit solution that not only preserves the beach and surf but also provides flood protection and minimizes seasonal variations. Commission staff incorporated these requests into the conditions, which will ensure the City consider how best to protect the public’s long-term interests. This example also highlights the ongoing need generally for holistic and creative approaches to improving and preserving our coast in the coming years.

Standard practice should be to require living shorelines, managed retreat and green and grey infrastructure options to be considered in all alternatives analyses for hard armoring. Alternatives analyses should also incorporate high sea level rise projection scenarios and compare economic costs over the short, medium and long terms respectively.

April Vote Charts

The April hearing resulted in two vote charts. The first is an appeal for a proposed home remodel in Laguna Beach. Staff recommended denial of a de novo hearing on an appeal of a City of Laguna Beach approved permit for an 1600+ square-foot addition and remodel of a blufftop home with ancillary structures and grading, etc. After extensive debate, Commissioners ultimately denied the proposal. Read the full vote chart, here.

The second vote chart is an enforcement item that addressed unpermitted grading and fill of over 13 acres of wetlands in Marin County. The wetlands impacted are on an organic dairy farm and part of the Estero de San Antonio which empties into Bodega Bay. Wetlands are protected habitat under the Coastal Act and serve important ecosystem functions such as storm water and agricultural run-off filtration, carbon sequestration, erosion and flood protection and more. Restoring these wetlands is important not only for the water quality impacts downstream but also for the precedent and message that the Coastal Commission takes habitat protection seriously. Read the full vote chart, here.