February 2018 Hearing Report

Mandy Sackett
March 15, 2018
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February Coastal Commission Hearing

This month, the Coastal Commission met in Cambria, where Commissioners voted on several important items including: a moderate cost hotel in Cayucos; the first comprehensive LUP update since the 2015 Sea Level Rise Guidance document was adopted for the City of San Clemente; and approval of a letter of opposition to the recently released 2019-2024 Draft Proposed National Oil and Gas Leasing Program.

Cayucos Del Mar Hotel

The applicant proposed to construct a 19-room, moderate cost, hotel (Cayucos Del Mar Hotel) in the unincorporated community of Cayucos in San Luis Obispo County. Coastal Commission staff recommended approval of the project with conditions and determined that no additional low cost accommodation mitigation was necessary given 4 of the rooms are considered lower cost. There was significant community opposition to the project due to objections of the project’s inconsistency with the County’s LUP policies including community character, parking concerns and visual impacts.

Additionally, the applicant openly has plans to develop the residential component of the project that was dropped in order to scale down the project as requested by the Coastal Commission. This is illegal as piecemealing under CEQA because the project will not be reviewed for impacts in its entirety. Piecemealing, has the potential to provide a loophole for getting development projects approved that are not otherwise consistent with the Coastal Act. Commissioner Peskin motioned to deny the permit and Commissioner Aminzadeh seconded the motion. The project was denied 10-2.

City of San Clemente LUP Comprehensive Update

The LCP amendment consists of a comprehensive update to the certified City of San Clemente Land Use Plan (LUP), including the alignment of the California Coastal Trail, alternative parking strategies, limitations on preferential parking, protection of existing and provision of affordable overnight accommodations and more.

In addition, the staff’s proposed modifications address coastal hazards and the need to limit the construction of coastal protective devices. There was only one unresolved suggested modification that the City was in opposition to. The Coastal Commission staff recommendation included the definition of existing development as pre-Coastal Act (January 1, 1977). The City currently interprets section 30235 of Chapter 3 of the Coastal Act to mean that existing structures at present time are entitled to shoreline armoring.

The subject comprehensive LUP update is the first to be acted on by the Commission since adoption of the 2015 Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance and will set an important precedent for future updates.

One of the most significant ways to protect our public beaches and coastal habitats is to include the definition of existing development as it was originally intended by the legislature in local planning documents. No development built after the Coastal Act is entitled to shoreline armoring and all new development must waive its rights to armoring. Ultimately, Commissioners unanimously approved staff’s suggested modifications with one amendment - to exclude and revisit the definition of existing development in the City’s implementation plan.

Offshore Oil and Gas Opposition Letter

The Commission voted to approve a letter to the federal Bureau of Ocean and Energy management, expressing the concern and strong opposition to the proposed federal 2019-2024 Draft Proposed National Oil and Gas Leasing Program. Executive Director, Jack Ainsworth remarked that the Administration is putting California’s precious resources at risk and does not appear to not share California’s values. He emphasized that our future lies with renewable energy production and that California is firmly committed to reducing greenhouse gases. The Commission approved the brief, strongly worded letter unanimously. Future, more detailed, comment letters are expected in the near future.

Check out the February Vote Charts here.