June 2020 Hearing Report

From ActCoastal

By Mandy Sackett | Published 2020/07/20

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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.

June 2020 Coastal Commission Meeting Report

The June meeting took place virtually from Wednesday, June 10 to Friday, June 12. The agenda contained more substantial items than the previous month as the virtual platform becomes more finely tuned and capacity increases. ActCoastal partners commented on several items including a proposed condominium development on Beach Boulevard in Pacifica, reauthorization of the Russian River Management Plan and an enforcement action regarding longstanding beach encroachments by 33 Newport Beach homeowners. The meeting resulted in one vote chart, on the Beach Boulevard development which was an appeal of a city issued permit that was ultimately denied. Commissioners expressed concerns regarding coastal hazards and safety on the site. For more information, see the vote chart and meeting summary.

Newport Beach Encroachment Enforcement Item

As a result of the a consent cease and desist order, offending private property owners were fined $1.7 million for violating public access to Newport Beach for decades by creating illegal yard extensions of their beachfront properties onto the sandy public beaches. The city of Newport Beach also agreed to cover at least $500,000 in costs to remove illegal landscaping, grassy lawns and walkways.

A total of 33 homeowners will pay the fine for their encroachment into sand dune habitat in Newport Beach. This private encroachment on public beach takes up valuable space that should be available for public access. As reported in Courthouse News, “Jennifer Savage, California policy manager for the Surfrider Foundation, said during the meeting the homeowners encroached on the public beach ‘with a sense of entitlement most of us would be hard-pressed to fathom.’ Savage said some of the illegal yards extended as much as 80 feet onto the beach.”

Additionally, sand dunes are regarded as sensitive habitat that support endangered shorebirds and other wildlife. Sand dunes also provide beach stability and may provide important flood protection over the coming decades as sea levels rise. The orders were approved by the Commission unanimously.

As always, check out ActCoastal partner testimony from the meeting on our YouTube channel.