|Description||The Coastal Commission April meeting took place in Ventura and virtually on April 6-8. The meeting included several controversial items including the Point Reyes National Seashore Water Quality Strategy and Climate Action Plan condition compliance and the Humboldt Offshore Wind Energy Area federal consistency determination. The Commission also approved a new section of coastal trail in Humboldt County, a seasonal beach closure to protect sea lion pups in La Jolla and reconstruction of a precarious storm drain structure on Dockweiler Beach. The meeting resulted in three vote charts. Dockweiler Beach Vote Chart Humboldt Wind Energy Vote Chart Children’s Pool, La Jolla Seasonal Closure Vote Chart|
Issues voted on at this Meeting
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|Children’s Pool Seasonal Beach Closure||The Coastal Commission voted to approve a seasonal closure of Point La Jolla bluffs during California sea lion pupping season from May 25 to September 15, including installation of a K-rail barrier to create an ocean access path to Boomer Beach. In response to reports of harassment and conflicts between the public and California sea lions, the City of San Diego proposed to close the Point La Jolla bluffs area to public access during California sea lion pupping season.
Several organizations including Surfrider Foundation and Sierra Club supported the seasonal beach closure. The coastal access tradeoff is clearly justified given the need to adhere to marine mammal harassment regulations. Without a more clear, enforceable boundary maintaining distance between people and sea lions on Boomer Beach, the harassment will continue. This is within walking distance of NOAA and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where marine mammal protections are designed by grounded science. Commissioners unanimously approved the staff recommendation for a seasonal beach closure.
|Dockweiler Beach Storm Drain Structure Rebuild||On Wednesday, the Commission approved an application by Los Angeles County to reconstruct a 380 ft. long x 11 ft. wide x 9 ft. high reinforced concrete storm drain box on the beach at Dockweiler State Beach seaward of Sandpiper Street. The staff recommendation included a number of permit conditions, notably requiring the County to develop an adaptation plan within 5 years to address the coastal resource and access impacts of the structure and limiting the permit duration to ten years. The permit will regrettably maintain a stormwater outfall on a beach in an area that is vulnerable to flooding and sea level rise and extend the lifetime of a critical infrastructure project located not just near the sea but also in the sea. However, staff’s conditions appropriately limit the permit duration.
It is also noteworthy that this and other similar structures exist on Dockweiler Beach which is adjacent to low income communities while other more affluent communities enjoy stormdrain free beaches. Also concerning, is that the County delayed a follow up CDP for emergency repairs authorized under an emergency permit to this structure seven years ago. Given the lack of readily available alternatives and a construction plan that will minimize lateral access impacts, the staff recommendation offered a reasonable compromise.
|Humboldt Wind Energy Area Lease Sale||On Thursday, the Commission voted to approve a Consistency Determination for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) leasing activities associated with future offshore wind development in the Humboldt Wind Energy Area, located in federal waters approximately 21 miles offshore of Eureka.
This review includes BOEM’s activities to conduct a lease sale for up to 132,369 acres of federal waters for the future development of offshore wind energy facilities. It also includes BOEM’s work to permit lessees to conduct site characterization and assessment activities and submit a construction and operations plan for development of offshore wind energy on their leases. It does not include consideration of potential effects related to future construction and operation of any commercial wind power facilities - those will be evaluated under a future review.
The staff recommendation included several important conditions to ensure Coastal Act consistency with any lease activities. A coalition of environmental organizations supported conditions that require important habitat and sensitive species protections including response plans, anchoring plan and a vessel speed restriction of ten knots, on board monitors and robust tribal consultation. Environmental Defense Center and others pointed out that BOEM’s narrow focus for their lease sale review does not meet Coastal Zone Management Act requirements and requested that a board range of recommendations for future phases of development also be brought in for conditions for this consistency determination to make clear what the expectation will be for this project as it moves forward. The Commission did not make this change, however, the Consistency Determination does make important improvements to BOEM’s lease sale evaluation process. Commissioner Wilson motioned to approve the determination and it was unanimously approved.