February Hearing Report

From ActCoastal

By Jennifer Savage | Published 2017/03/14

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

February Coastal Commission Report

The February hearing in Newport Beach lasted two days instead of the usual 3. Thursday was a busy day for coastal advocates as several important items were discussed. Notably, there were several San Diego County seawall decisions made and Commissioners approved staff’s revised findings on the denial of the Newport Banning Ranch permit application.

On Friday, Commissioners went into closed session to conduct interviews for the unfilled Executive Director position. At the end of day Commissioners announced that Interim Executive Director, Jack Ainsworth was selected for the permanent position. Over the past year, Ainsworth has shown himself to be committed to the Coastal Act, the protection of California' s coast and to keeping the public informed about the issues at hand. We're pleased to see the Commission making this choice.

Newport Banning Ranch - Revised Findings

California Coastal Commission staff submitted item 12a, revised findings for application No. 5-15-2097 Newport Banning Ranch, LLC in Newport Beach. The purpose of reviewing the revised findings is solely to address whether they accurately reflect the Commission’s decision for the proposed development at the September 2016 hearing.

The project applicant testified, requesting that the Commission deny the revised findings as submitted - claiming that they do not accurately reflect the basis of their action. The applicant requested that the findings be rewritten to emphasize that the purpose of the project denial was due to unresolved issues and the need for more information, thereby leaving the door open for a revised project. As written, the applicant claims, the findings would preempt any future consideration for development. Regardless, the Commissioners voted 7-1 to approve staff’s revised findings. Read the full report here.

O’Neal Seawall in Solana Beach

The proposed permit amendment seeks to revise the special conditions for a previously approved 256 ft. shoreline protection device in Solana Beach. The existing seawall is currently authorized for a period of twenty years from the date of Commission approval of CDP #6-09-033 (October 14, 2010). The proposed CDP amendment proposes to remove the twenty-year permit term, and instead tie the authorization of the seawall to the life of the existing threatened structures the armoring is required to protect. The Surfrider Foundation testified in opposition to the amendment, raising concern that without the 20 year permit trigger we may not have the opportunity to reevaluate this seawall, especially as circumstances change. Sea level rise and increased beach erosion are likely to increase over time, resulting in significant impacts to coastal access at locations fronting shoreline protection devices. Despite these objections, Commissioners approved the amendment in a 7-1 vote. Read the full issue description here.

Solana Beach Tennis Club Seawall – Revised Findings

The Solana Beach and Tennis Club shoreline armoring project was reviewed at the January 2016 Coastal Commission hearing and would have involved maintaining and expanding five existing sea cave infills with an additional 75-foot long “erodible” concrete notch in the coastal bluff. According to the applicant, the action was not currently critical to the structures on the coastal bluff, but was intended to protect beachgoers. The revised findings reflect the Commissioners’ direction that the applicant must test the erodibility of the proposed “erodible concrete” infill before it can be implemented in a larger scale project. Commissioner Kinsey moved to adopt the revised findings and the motion passed unanimously. Read the full issue description here.

Governor Announces Coastal Commission Appointments

On Tuesday, Feb. 21, Governor Jerry Brown announced two new appointments to the California Coastal Commission:

Donne Brownsey, 61, of Fort Bragg, has been appointed to a two-year pleasure term on the California Coastal Commission [filling the seat left vacant by Wendy Mitchell's resignation in December]. Brownsey was senior vice president at Sacramento Advocates Inc. from 2004 to 2015. She was founder of Government Solutions from 1993 to 2004 and chief legislative consultant in the Office of California State Senator David Roberti from 1985 to 1993. Brownsey earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Brownsey is a Democrat.

Effie Turnbull Sanders, 44, of Los Angeles, has been reappointed to a two-year pleasure term on the California Coastal Commission, where she has served since 2014. Turnbull Sanders has been an assistant general counsel at the Los Angeles Unified School District since 2006. She was a deputy attorney at the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office from 2004 to 2006, working on behalf of the city to address blight and environmental hazards, and was an associate at Richards Watson and Gershon from 2001 to 2003. Turnbull Sanders was a special assistant to former California Supreme Court Justice and vice chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Cruz Reynoso from 1998 to 2001, advising on environmental justice, civil rights and economic development issues. She is a board member of Social Action Partners, where she works to educate and train individuals to be advocates for social justice and encourages public service. Turnbull Sanders earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Turnbull Sanders will serve as the environmental justice representative on the Commission, pursuant to statute. She is a Democrat.

Read the full press release here.