December 2018 Hearing Report

Mandy Sackett
February 15, 2019
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December Coastal Commission Report

The December Coastal Commission hearing took place at the Newport Beach Civic Center on Wednesday, December 12 through Friday, December 14. The meeting included important coastal preservation issues: a beach nourishment project in Monterey Bay, public access at Hollister Ranch and a presentation on the Revised Draft Residential Adaptation Guidance. Notably, the Commission voted to approve an application for new oil production and wetlands restoration project by Beach Oil Minerals in Long Beach.

Moss Landing Harbor 10-Year Dredging Operations

The Moss Landing Harbor District requested a coastal development permit for approval of a 10-year dredge project and to dispose of sediments to restore navigable depths in berths in the Moss Landing Harbor and the North Harbor channel. The Surfrider Foundation Monterey Chapter raised concerns about the placement of a portion of the dredge materials onto the beach. Moss Landing Harbor has a history of sediment contamination including a legacy of toxic contaminants according to the Sampling and Analysis Plan. Surfrider asked that the Commission require the Harbor District to engage in ongoing sampling as dredged materials are extracted and prepared for beach placement and for surf monitoring conditions to be put into place.

Commissioners Mary Luevano and Mark Vargas made a motion to continue the item to a future hearing and asked staff to investigate whether ongoing sampling was feasible. View the full vote chart, here.

Hollister Ranch

On Friday, Coastal Commission staff presented an informational briefing on the 1982 Hollister Ranch Public Access Program. Hollister Ranch is a 14,000-acre, gated subdivision in Santa Barbara County. In the late 1970s, and again in the 1980s, the Coastal Commission attempted to obtain public access to the Hollister Ranch coast. The Commission’s proposed public access plan was met with opposition, threat of a lawsuit, blocked access and intervention by the state legislature.

Due to pressure from the public, the Commission is exploring ways to revive efforts to restore access to Hollister Ranch. An interagency working group will be convened in 2019, and a draft public access plan, with public and stakeholder input, will be drafted.

According to Susan Jordan at the Californian Coastal Protection Network (CCPN), the arguments used by property owners to block public access are distressing and unmerited, claiming the public will destroy the environment and only Ranch owners can be good stewards of this land. Susan went on to say that public access should should be managed in a way that is fair to the environment, the public and homeowners. All those who have historically been excluded access should have a say in what the Access Plan looks like up front and during the program development. She also pointed out that management problems currently exist at the Ranch. There are numerous examples and photographic evidence of homeowners driving their cars onto the beach. Watch the full CCPN presentation on the ActCoastal YouTube page.

The Commission plans to hold a local public workshop in March for additional input. More information can be found here.

Residential Adaptation Guidance and South Orange County Beaches

Representatives from the Surfrider Foundation gave a presentation highlighting recent erosion events in South Orange County and their implications about the need for improved coastal hazards planning locally and statewide. Recently, the Coastal Commission delayed adoption of their draft Residential Adaptation Guidance due to opposition by a vocal minority of those fortunate enough to benefit from the currently high value of coastal real estate. Surfrider expressed concerned that the public interest is being neglected with the delay and potential rewrite of the Guidance. As written, the Guidance provides recommendations for progressive, proactive and precautionary planning and policy to address the challenges of sea level rise and coastal hazards. Watch the Surfrider Foundation’s full presentation on the ActCoastal YouTube page. Surfrider also urges you to take action by sending a message to Executive Director Jack Ainsworth, today!