February 2021 Hearing Report

Mandy Sackett
March 26, 2021
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February 2021 Hearing Report

The Coastal Commission’s February meeting took place on Wednesday, Feb.10 through Friday, Feb. 12. The meeting was busy with a number of important issues on the agenda and resulted in four vote charts.

  • The first vote chart dealt with removal of a new mobile home construction at Capistrano Shores Mobile Home Park which would have resulted in a new home located within a coastal hazard zone relying on shoreline armoring – which is prohibited under the Coastal Act. Read the full vote chart here.
  • The second vote chart was for the approval of a new blufftop hotel in Dana Point to replace the existing Cannon’s Restaurant and overlooking Dana Point Harbor. Due to staff and Commissioners’ special conditions and modifications, a number of important sustainability features will be included in the project. Read the full vote chart here.
  • The third vote chart was the approval of the City of Long Beach’s Belmont Beach Aquatic Center. Community members, the Surfrider Foundation and a number of groups raised concerns with environmental justice and coastal hazard impacts. Commissioners were satisfied with the public transportation special conditions required in the staff recommendation and did not further address sea level rise impacts at the hearing. Read the full vote chart here.
  • The fourth vote chart was the denial of a proposed trail relocation at Ontario Ridge in San Luis Obispo County. The relocation was strongly opposed by local community members and the Commission noted that prescriptive rights to the trail likely exist from decades of historic public use. Read the full vote chart here.

Additionally, the Coastal Commission reviewed an important item on Thursday regarding the repair and reconstruction of a private beach access stairway at Seascape Shores condominiums in Solana Beach. The Surfrider Foundation registered their concerns with the project including:

  • The original, pre-Coastal Act staircase was illegally built in violation of county permits.
  • The current private stairway is a new stairway that does not predate the effective date of the Coastal Act; therefore, it should not be considered “existing” development. Additionally, this new stairway relies on a seawall, which is not allowed per the Coastal Act.
  • The new, post-Coastal Act private staircase is located on public lands.
  • If the CDP is granted, then it must include a condition requiring public access to the stairway. Adding a public stairway is consistent with the guidance in the Solana Beach Land Use Plan (Policy 2.60.5).
  • Because Solana Beach does not have a Certified Local Coastal Plan, the standard of review is the Coastal Act.

At the hearing, Commissioners agreed that the permitting status of the existing stairway needs clarification and that the applicant should consider including public access to the stairway. Facing possible denial, the applicants withdrew the application and stated their intention to resubmit a revised project and/or missing information.

Finally, on Friday, the Coastal Commission approved a new living shoreline project by the San Mateo Harbor District near Pillar Point Harbor at Mavericks Beach. This project will help protect the Pillar Point Harbor West Trail from occasional erosion events and avoid the need for hard armoring, which would likely only result in exacerbated erosion. This represents one of the few living shoreline projects in California and a positive direction for the Coastal Commission. Originally, a hard armoring project was proposed to Coastal Commission staff who instead required a thorough alternative analysis. The robust alternatives analysis resulted in identification of the living shoreline project. The creative design will help inform future projects and hopefully lead to other similar projects across the state.