July Hearing Report

From ActCoastal

By Mandy Sackett | Published 2017/08/21

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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.

July Coastal Commission Hearing

The July hearing took place at California State University Monterey Bay in Seaside. Commissioners heard several important issues ranging from beach access and coastal armoring to cease and desist orders for the last sand mine in California. Indeed, a landmark enforcement settlement was approved, marking the end of the sand mining era and a huge win for coastal preservation.

Pacific Grove Retainment Wall

The City of Pacific Grove proposed to reconstruct a 31 ft. by 5 ft. collapsed portion of a bluff top retainment wall that protects a coastal trail, outlook point and open space. The Surfrider Foundation and number of local residents raised concerns about the proposed repair given the lack of a long term shoreline management plan for this area as well as insufficient analysis with regards to environmentally preferred alternatives, need and sea level rise impacts. Notably, there is 80 ft. of open space adjacent to the coastal trail that would provide ample space for this portion of the trail to retreat from the eroding coastline and eliminate the need for retainment wall repairs.

The City of Pacific Grove is currently in violation of permit conditions for repairs to the same retainment wall. The City never completed a shoreline management plan for this area as required in permit number 3-6-024 in 2007 and therefore is in violation of the permit.

Ultimately, Commissioners approved the permit based on the notion that other portions of the retainment wall may be jeopardized if this repair is not made - despite not having any data to support this notion. In order to fulfill the approved conditions, the City must come back with a shoreline management plan within 3 years and seek a new permit for the repairs - should that be in their plan. Unfortunately, this decision perpetuates a culture of do now, plan later and is one in a long history of so-called “emergency” armoring requests that use urgency as an excuse for poor planning decisions. These urgent, quick fix armoring projects are rarely removed once installed due to the cost and momentum associated – causing lasting harm to our precious coastal resources and only to be exacerbated in the face of sea level rise.

Cemex Sand Mine - Cease and Desist Consent Orders

The consent order reached between the California Coastal Commission and the CEMEX building material company is a clear victory for all those who live, work and play on the Monterey coast. Its significance also extends far beyond geographical boundaries. In a time when so many of our natural resources and protected areas are under threat, to see the perseverance of a small group of citizens and public agencies pay off gives a much-needed reminder that these efforts are worthwhile. As Coastal Commission Executive Direct Jack Ainsworth said, the consent order was, “A truly historic decision” and one of most significant Coastal Commission accomplishments in the agency’s existence.

For a breakdown of July's key conservation votes and the full meeting report, click here.