March Hearing Report

From ActCoastal

By Jennifer Savage | Published 2017/03/17

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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.

The March Coastal Commission hearing resulted in only one vote chart item; however, several important issues were raised over the two-day meeting. The public comment period was well utilized to raise awareness of nonagenda topics and impending items of interest.

The much-anticipated final phase of restoration at the Crystal Cove State Beach cottages was approved on Wednesday along with a robust lower cost visitor serving accommodations program that is expected to significantly improve public access in a historically inaccessible portion of the Orange County coast. (More in the Los Angeles Times here.)

New commissioners, Donne Brownsey and Aaron Peskin were sworn in and made a strong showing at their first meeting with plenty of constructive questions and informed discussion resulting in “good” vote scores on Crystal Cove.

Improving Access Opportunities with Underserved Communities

During public comment, StokeShare founder Joel Cesare, who also chairs Surfrider Foundation’s West LA / Malibu Chapter, presented on the organization’s One Watershed program, a collaboration with Surfrider that connects underserved youth to nature through action sports. StokeShare uses surfing to inspire appreciation for the ocean through engaging young people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to visit the coast. The “One Watershed” name highlights the fact that everything we do has an impact downstream. To date, StokeShare and Surfrider have held eight events, partnered with six different at-risk youth non-profits and introduced surfing to over 200 kids. StokeShare asked the Coastal Commission to continue to emphasize improving coastal access for underserved communities through partnerships with nonprofits, and to support and build upon established programs.

Coastal Armoring at San Onofre State Park

Late February, the Coastal Commission issued an emergency permit to San Onofre State Park for a 900 ft. rock revetment to protect a coastal access road and parking lot. In an effort to raise awareness about significant concerns with this project – especially the likelihood of this becoming a permanent solution – Surfrider presented community concerns to the Coastal Commission following the San Diego Deputy Director’s Report on Wednesday. The revetment is likely to negatively impact the nearby surf break and increase beach erosion. At the very least, it is important that the revetment be removed when the emergency permit elapses on Nov. 1, 2017, and a long-term solution that protects this beloved park and associated recreational resources be found.

Dredging at Humboldt Bay

The Surfrider Foundation also spoke during public comment to warn Commissioners about an impending dredging issue on the North Coast. The marinas in Humboldt Bay require dredging every seven-to-10 years or so, but when Humboldt Bay Harbor District and City of Eureka dumped dredge materials onto the beach in 2008, it caused a major disruption to beachgoers, surfers and other recreationists with smelly sludge that made the beach impassable.

Despite warnings from permitting agencies and the Coastal Commission itself that this practice would never be allowed again, the Harbor District and City of Eureka are expected to come forward with a proposal to repeat this practice in June, saying they can’t afford anything other than dumping dredge spoils directly on the beach – approximately 200,000 cubic yards of sediment. For the sake of beach access and general fair application of regulations, it is imperative that history does not repeat itself.

Crystal Cove

The Coastal Commission approved the final phase of the restoration of Crystal Cove State Park. Commission staff, State Parks and the Crystal Cove Alliance worked tirelessly to develop a project that will benefit the public and honor the historic nature of the location. This project will double the number of cottages available and includes a significant lower cost accommodations component with a hostel style dorm and a youth educational program. Overall a win for coastal access in Southern California! The California Coastal Protection Network along with Surfrider Foundation voiced strong for the project and its public access benefits. This project sailed through the diocese without controversy – any and all discrepancies have long since been worked out over the multi year permit process.