Pismo Beach Seawall – Army Corps of Engineers

From ActCoastal

Month December
Year 2013
Summary In January 2013, the CCC approved a permit for construction of a seawall at St. Andrews sewage pumping station in Pismo Beach. That permit required the Corps or City to return to the Commission in five years with a managed retreat plan and to return again in 20 years to review the permit conditions. At the December hearing, the Corps unsuccessfully tried to limit any future review of the seawall to simply its “physical need” to protect the pump station. Instead, the Commission required that any future review consider “all” of the Coastal Act policies, including impacts on public access, recreation, sand supply, etc.
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Outcome Description Commissioners were concerned that the Corps proposal for more narrow language would undermine the Commission’s “original intent.” Commissioners reinforced their decision that any future review of the seawall will consider all of the Coastal Management Program policies, and not just its physical need to protect the pump station. That means any future review must also consider how the seawall affects public access, recreational use, impact on sand supply, and other biological impacts. The Commissioners voted unanimously to add specific language to the findings saying, “the Commission intends and expects that the assessment of the ‘utility’ of the seawall will go beyond a mere assessment of the physical need for the wall to assess its consistency, to the maximum extent practical, with the enforceable policies of the California Coastal Management Program.”
Why You Should Care Sea walls are common response to coastal erosion but cause a range of adverse impacts, including blocking public access, interrupting beach sand supply, increasing nearby erosion, and contributing to eventual loss of the public beach. Rising sea levels will only increase the demand for seawalls. By making this decision, the Commission rejected setting a bad precedent (requested by the Corps), that might limit its ability to consider these types of impacts in the future. Instead, the Commission helped to ensure that local communities and planners will begin to look at the bigger picture when analyzing the potential impacts of seawalls.
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Decision Type Proposed Modifications to Commission-Adopted Condition Language, Consistency Determination CD-057-12
Staff Recommendation Staff recommended Commission approval of modified language for the consistency determination.
Staff Report
Opposition to Project Opponents wanted to build a precedent for ensuring that the full impact of seawalls will be considered in future permit reviews. They also wanted to ensure that the Corps of Engineers complied with federal law requiring its projects to be consistent “to the maximum extent practicable” with the policies of California’s coastal management program.
Coastal Act Policies Coastal Act Policies 30235, 30253, 30211, 30212(a), 30220, 30221, 30223, 30251, 30230, 30231

Voting Detail for Pismo Beach Seawall – Army Corps of Engineers

Individual vote detail for Issue: Pismo Beach Seawall – Army Corps of Engineers
Martha McClureGood Vote
Carole GroomGood Vote
Mark VargasGood Vote
Dayna BochcoGood Vote
Mary K. ShallenbergerGood Vote
Jana ZimmerGood Vote
Wendy MitchellGood Vote
Greg CoxGood Vote
Steve KinseyGood Vote
Brian BrennanGood Vote
Dr. Robert GarciaGood Vote

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