May 2021 Hearing Report
May Hearing Description
The Coastal Commission’s May meeting took place on Wednesday, May 12 through Friday, May 14. The meeting started off with a presentation that unveiled a new online map of the California Coastal Trail and a report that the 1,230 mile trail is 70% complete. Other noteworthy items included a new development at Capistrano Shores Mobile Home Park in San Clemente and a rebuild of the Mirada Bridge pedestrian trail in Half Moon Bay. The Commission also approved a new CalTrans project on the Pacific Coastal Highway in Ventura County and a rebuild of the Santa Monica Beach Club, both described below. The meeting resulted in two vote charts.
Ventura County CalTrans PCH Improvements
The Commission approved a Caltrans stabilization project for a stretch of Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) near Sycamore Canyon campground in Point Mugu State Park, Ventura County. This area of Ventura County coastline provides extensive recreational opportunities to the public, including at Point Mugu State Park and the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The project included removing 13 free parking spaces alongside PCH, six of which would be replaced by re-striping the nearby State Parks parking lot to create more paid spaces at $12 per day, which prompted concern from Surfrider Foundation about the impact to coastal access equity.
This project is another example of how free parking along PCH has been incrementally taken away over the years and replaced in a way that is not similar, but through paid parking with different hours, making early hiking or walking along coastal trails expensive and impossible. Commission staff clarified that Special Condition 7 would create a public access plan that should create at least 7 free spots nearby and improve access in the area.
Santa Monica Beach Club
Over the past several years, the Santa Monica Beach Club – a 32,000 sq. ft., two-story private membership club on Santa Monica’s North Beach – illegally constructed and installed a number of structures including a large storage tents, a sand volleyball court, a green picket fence, a hut, playground structures, a bocce ball court, an outdoor dining patio, a 1,623 sq. ft. asphalt paved area and six associated storage sheds, a seven-foot high “privacy fence” and an asphalt parking lot. As part of an application to remodel the club, the applicant agreed to remove or obtain after-the-fact permits for all these illegal structures.
Surfrider Foundation pointed out that the lack of enforcement action and ability to obtain permits after the fact could send the wrong message to Coastal Act violators. Staff explained that the Commission’s enforcement staff to ensure that all violations were satisfactorily addressed and that public access, visual resources, hazards and biological resources were protected through myriad special conditions. After an extensive discussion about the project, Commissioners voted to approve it.