May 2019 Hearing Report

Mandy Sackett
July 25, 2019
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June Hearing Report

The Coastal Commission’s June hearing took place in San Diego at the Island Palms Hotel & Marina on Wednesday, June 12 through Friday, June 14. The agenda featured important coastal issues including public access, beach preservation and environmentally sensitive habitat areas. The meeting resulted in 3 vote charts:

  • On Thursday, the Commission approved a consent cease and desist order against the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay for failing to provide public access to the coast as required in their coastal development permit. In the enforcement settlement, the hotel operator agreed to create public coastal access parking spaces and improved signage. In addition, the hotel operators agreed to an administrative fine of $1.6 million, a portion of which will help develop a segment of the California Coastal Trail via the Peninsula Open Space Trust.
  • On Thursday, the Commission also approved a temporary five-year authorization of a seawall at San Onofre State Beach with an option for a five year extension based on monitoring reports and a long term hazard management plan. The special conditions include annual surf and beach erosion monitoring reports with an opportunity for public contribution and a long term hazard management plan due in five years that avoids hard armoring and incorporates input from a public workshop.
  • On Friday, the Commission denied an application proposing to construct at 8,000 Sq. Ft. residential development in San Clemente that would be located in a protected coastal canyon. The lot contains environmentally sensitive habitat that would be damaged, which is not allowed under the Coastal Act and is therefore illegal, and the grading required would create an unstable bluff and thus be unsafe.

View the vote charts and full meeting summary here.

On Wednesday, the Commission approved a number of changes to Commission regulations under the rulemaking process. The proposed changes are intended to provide for electronic noticing and streamline procedures. Surfrider Foundation, Azul and California Coastal Protection Network expressed concern about the proposed changes, indicating more time and outreach was needed to understand potential environmental justice and transparency implications.

The groups suggested that the Commission delay to consider a report recently released by the University of California, Los Angeles Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment by Ralph Faust, former Chief Council of the Coastal Commission, titled The California Coastal Commission: Increasing Transparency, Accountability, and Opportunities for Effective Public Participation (Pritzker Policy Brief No. 12, June 2019). The report recommends several rulemaking and other changes to improve the Commission’s procedures. Commissioners disagreed with the request for delay and instead directed staff to return for a phase II update that considers these recommendations. An update to the Commission’s procedures is prudent, especially one that incorporates the newly adopted Environmental Justice Policy.