Bay City Partner’s Appeal of Executive Director Determination

From ActCoastal

Month August
Year 2014
Summary This vote was not based on the merits of the proposed project, but whether the project application is complete. Commission Staff deemed the application incomplete and the Applicant appealed Staff’s decision. While the Commission was not voting on the project itself, some Commissioners expressed concerns over the fact that the project requires a “land exchange” with State Lands Commission (SLC) and there is currently no official agreement in place. The land swap would involve SLC relinquishing public land and acquiring another parcel of land in a different location (near an old oil plant, with less biological and recreational value).

The property in question is currently designated as “Visitor Serving/Commercial”, yet the Applicant asserts that “visitor serving use” is not financially viable, and requested the land designation be changed to residential. Over the past year, Commission Staff repeatedly requested additional information from the Applicant to no avail, including: (1) an approved land exchange from SLC concluding the public trust easement no longer exists where residential use is proposed; (2) “rate of return” analysis for the proposed residential project; and (3) a mitigation proposal for the loss of visitor-serving overnight accommodations.

Outcome Green Dot.png
Outcome Description The debate centered on public trust land, and which agency should review the project first, either SLC or Coastal Commission. Since there is no formal land exchange agreement, many Commissioners were hesitant to call the Application complete until and unless SLC officially votes to remove the public trust easement from the land. A few Commissioners asserted that Staff’s request for information regarding “rate of return” was not necessary before the application was filed, and a mitigation plan could be provided during the project review. The vote was 5-5; thus the application will continue to be considered incomplete as long as there is no agreement with SLC to eliminate the easement.
Why You Should Care The project site is located where the San Gabriel River meets the ocean and, as such, is an ideal place to provide recreational opportunities for visitors. The City of Seal Beach does not have a certified Land Use Plan or a Local Coastal Program. Visitor serving uses are high on the Coastal Act’s list of priorities and can be provided on lands subject to the public trust. Private homes cannot be built on public trust lands and are not favored by the Act. Considering that southern California is largely developed, the public cannot afford to lose more public land and visitor serving resources to large-scale homes. It was critical that Staff and Commission found this application incomplete considering what is at stake. California’s public lands should remain in the public interest, and any plans for the property should be for visitor-serving accommodations, open space, and not for the development of residential homes. The onus is on the Applicant to produce an application that is thoroughly complete and meets Coastal Act requirements and also passes muster with SLC.
Image Gabriel River at Seal Beach California.jpg
Decision Type
Staff Recommendation
Staff Report
Opposition to Project
Coastal Act Policies

Voting Detail for Bay City Partner’s Appeal of Executive Director Determination

Individual vote detail for Issue: Bay City Partner’s Appeal of Executive Director Determination
Dayna BochcoGood Vote
Greg CoxBad Vote
Wendy MitchellAbstained from Vote
Effie Turnbull-SandersGood Vote
Erik HowellBad Vote
Carole GroomGood Vote
Dr. Robert GarciaAbstained from Vote
Mary K. ShallenbergerGood Vote
Martha McClureBad Vote
Mark VargasBad Vote
Steve KinseyBad Vote
Jana ZimmerGood Vote

Meeting Page

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