March 2023 Hearing Report
By Mandy Sackett | Published 2023-04-27
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.
March 2023 Hearing Report
The Coastal Commission’s March meeting took place on March 8-10 in Half Moon Bay. The two-day agenda was on the lighter side with several of the controversial items postponed, including the Pacifica local coastal program update. The LHO Mission Bay Hotel redevelopment faced substantial community pushback and was withdrawn before the hearing.
During public comment on Wednesday, several local residents spoke to the tragic mass shooting in Half Moon Bay in January and the need for improved living conditions for low income workers and their families. The Coastal Commission’s jurisdiction over affordable housing was reduced by legislative action in 1981 but remains a topic of debate.
On Wednesday morning, Commission staff gave an update on progress toward the Hollister Ranch Coastal Access Program and presented the draft Sustainability Principles, which would set guidelines and next steps for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through land use policy and permitting decisions. Later in the day, the Commission found “Substantial Issue” with a Santa Cruz County permit for shoreline armoring at Twin Lakes State Beach near a contested coastal access point at Geoffrey Drive - this item resulted in a vote chart.
March is a busy time in Sacramento and Commission staff’s legislative report included many bills with impacts to the Coastal Act. With 34 new members in the Legislature and a $22 billion budget deficit, we have yet to see how our coastline will fare under this new dynamic.
ActCoastal partner, Surfrider Foundation noted the important legislative priorities this year for the coast:
- Offshore wind (OSW). There is potential for several pending bills regarding OSW to do more harm than good. These bills should be carefully scrutinized given how dramatically offshore wind is poised to affect our coastline. In contrast, AB 80, authored by new Assemblymember Dawn Addis, would mark progress towards careful planning by establishing a scientific review committee focused on monitoring OSW impacts.
- Sea level rise (SLR). In 2019, the Legislature introduced 13 bills related to SLR. That’s not the case today. This is ironic given the acceleration of recent sea level rise impacts along the coast in 2023. Several ActCoastal partners are supporting SB 272, which is a single shining SLR bill this year that requires local governments to submit their LCP updates by 2034 - the cost of inaction is too critically high to not support this effort.
- Coastal resilience and blue carbon. Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath’s AB 45 to expand blue carbon project and Assemblymember Addis’ AB 1407, the ‘kelp restoration bill’, would both help rebuild and restore California’s coast using nature based solutions.
- State coastal resilience budget. The Governor’s budget currently proposed 45% cuts to coastal resiliency and will dramatically affect the state’s ability to establish and review multi-benefit resilience projects. At a minimum, resilience projects are needed to protect us from impacts like we have seen through the January atmospheric rivers where damage to a small stretch of road in Santa Cruz will cost $10 million. We are calling all hands on deck to help restore funding to coastal resilience and access in the state budget. Sea level rise is here, we are feeling the impacts, and there is an urgent need to fund related priorities.
Countdown to California Ocean Day
On April 11, 2023, Californians from all across the state will travel to Sacramento, CA to participate in the 18th Annual California Ocean Day. California Ocean Day started in 2005 with a group of beach-goers, environmentalists, and ocean advocates knocking on every door in the California Capitol to talk about protecting the ocean.
This year, Ocean Day will bring together ocean lovers, artists, elected officials and advocates in Sacramento. Participants will have the opportunity to meet with their state legislators, hear from experts on current issues concerning the ocean, and celebrate California’s marine life.
Agency representatives, legislators and staff, are strongly encouraged to meet the ocean-going public at the "Bait Ball - Lunch on the Capitol Lawn" at noon. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up for event updates to join!
Register today to secure your spot for a day of fun, learning, and advocacy! Want to learn more? An agenda for the day can be found on the Ocean Day Website.
2021 California Coastal Commission Conservation Report Card
No other agency or legislative body holds as much responsibility for California’s beloved beaches as does the Coastal Commission; the Commission’s decisions, month after month, permit by permit, shape the use of our coast and, in the face of sea level rise, the future of our beaches. The California Coastal Commission Report Card strives to ensure that this responsibility is being met by offering a summary and analysis of the commission’s voting record throughout the year based on key high-priority, high-stakes coastal development projects and issues.
Find the 2021 California Coastal Commission Conservation Report Card here.