February 2020 Hearing Report

From ActCoastal

By Mandy Sackett | Published 2020/03/24

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Commentary is provided by ActCoastal partners.

This blog represents the views of the authors, and does not necessarily reflect the positions of ActCoastal and its partner organizations.

February 2020 Hearing Description

The Coastal Commission’s February hearing took place in Long Beach at Long Beach City Hall on Wednesday, February 13 through Friday, February 15. The meeting was the first of 2020 and several important votes took place. The Commission denied a proposed 1,250 ft. revetment at Strands Beach in Dana Point, denied a proposed fence that would block a coastal trail in Pacific Grove and approved a key consent cease and desist order and administrative fine for the Tivoli Cove HOA that will restore access to Latigo Beach in Malibu.

The February hearing resulted in one vote chart. On Thursday, the Commission denied a proposed 1,250 ft. rock revetment at Strands Beach in Dana Point by Orange County Parks. The revetment would have protected private homes at the Niguel Shores Community Association at the expense of public beach space and mitigation funds from taxpayer dollars. Read the full vote chart here and check out ActCoastal partner testimony on our YouTube Channel!

Access Restored to Latigo Beach in Malibu

On Thursday, Commissioners approved - at Surfrider Foundation's urging - that a public accessway be restored to Latigo Beach in Malibu and a nearly $1 million mitigation fee be paid after decades of blocked access by the Tivoli Cove HOA. In 1978, the Coastal Commission required a public pathway to be built up and over a shoreline rock revetment so the public could reach the beach on the other side of Latigo Beach where lateral access was otherwise blocked by the revetment. This pathway was provided for a time, but then one of the stairways was destroyed in 1986, and Tivoli Cove HOA failed to provide and maintain the staircase as required by the permit.

Instead, the Tivoli Cove HOA posted signs deterring access, treated the remaining staircase and access path as private, and in addition, allowed boulders and other debris from their revetment and former access stairway to wash up on the public beach, blocking access there as well. This blocked access has particularly impacted the surfers who visit Latigo Point at the western end of the beach to enjoy the waves.

As part of the consent cease and desist orders, Tivoli Cove agreed to comply with their original permit and the Coastal Act to build the required eastern stairway, install required public access signs, remove unpermitted development obstructing the public pathway, and remove the boulders and other debris that are blocking access on the beach. The HOA also agreed to provide a number of public access amenities and pay an administrative penalty of $925,000 to address the loss of public access. Commissioners unanimously approved the orders and penalty. Check out ActCoastal partner testimony on our YouTube Channel!

Pacific Grove Trail Access - Union Pacific Railroad

Union Pacific Railroad submitted an application to the Coastal Commission seeking to construct three 6-ft. tall chain link fences within abandoned railroad right-of-way, which would fence off nearly one half mile of scenic trail which accesses the coast and provides low cost recreation to locals and visitors alike.

The Surfrider Foundation’s Monterey Chapter heard from many distressed residents who utilize the Pacific Grove Recreation Trail nearly every day and would be severely detrimentally impacted by such a recreational and access cut off.

  • Coastal Commission staff recommended denial of the project for the reasons below:

The Coastal Act requires that public recreational access be maximized, prioritizes recreational development over other types of development, and specifically protects public access as well as lower-cost visitor and recreational facilities;

  • Evidence on record indicates that the Applicant has allowed the public to access the Right Of Way (ROW) since at least 1980;
  • The above is why the 1989 Land Use Plan (LUP) identifies and designates the railroad ROW as “Open Space Recreational” and “Recreational Trail" allowing low- intensity day-use recreational and educational activities, such as walking, nature study, photography and scenic viewing.

The LUP specifically prohibits any development within the ROW that would compromise its utility for recreational access. Staff appropriately recommended denial of the fence and Commissioners unanimously and enthusiastically supported that recommendation and denied the proposal.

OSDVRA Update from State Parks

Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (OSDVRA) is a State Park in San Luis Obispo County that consists of 6 miles of sandy beach, 3 miles inland at widest point. Vehicles are allowed across the park, the only off-highway vehicle park in the coastal zone. The vehicular activities impact sensitive habitat and nearby communities. State Parks’ coastal development permit for continued vehicular operations was heard by the Commission in 2019. While the Commission indicated State Parks’ plan to continue vehicular use inconsistent with the Coastal Act, they opted to engage in further negotiations rather than deny the application all together. State Parks is now giving quarterly in-person meetings to the Commission on progress. This hearing, Parks provided the following updates:

  • They are working to developed a snowy plover protection plan;
  • They are looking more closely at environmental justice concerns;
  • They are working with a dune geomorphologist coalition.

Several speakers expressed concerns that more needs to be done and further restrictions need to go into place to help protect the coastal resources in this part and restrict vehicular use. Commissioner Sara Aminzadeh requested that State Parks come back with clear and transparent timelines for actions and plans that demonstrate their progress toward Coastal Act compliance.

Local resident, Cynthia Replogle, took a video of the park, which is posted on the ActCoastal Youtube channel, during the January 2020 king tide. The king tides are the highest tides of the year and illustrate the impacts to expect with one foot of sea level rise. Future OSDVRA updates will take place at the Commission’s April and July meetings.