|Description||The Coastal Commission’s September meeting took place in Pismo Beach on September 7-9. The California Energy Commission Chair, David Hochschild, presented the agency’s plan for renewable energy and included some uplifting projections and lofty goals, worth checking out if you are experiencing climate depression. The Commission found substantial issue with a Dana Point permit for a new beachfront home in harm’s way and approved a seawall repair project in Oceanside. Notably, the Coastal Commission approved Poseidon’s annual work plan for the Carlsbad desalination plant mitigation, which is supposed to finally begin construction this Fall. Included in Poseidon’s update was also a long overdue modification to their Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Plan - to remove language that has long since been deemed misleading and erroneous that the plant would result in one for one reductions of imported water. The Commission also approved the highly controversial Point Reyes National Seashore Water Quality Strategy submitted by the National Parks Service. Finally, the Commission approved Phase 1 of Arcata’s Wastewater Treatment Facilities Improvements Project. The meeting resulted in two vote charts, for the Point Reyes Water Quality Strategy and the Arcata Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvement Project.|
Issues voted on at this Meeting
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|Arcata Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvement Project||The Commission approved the Arcata Wastewater Treatment Facility improvement project. The facility is located on the edge of Arcata Bay in an area consisting of former tidelands and there is sensitive habitat on site. The facility has exceeded its expected life and is in need of upgrades. Those include a new ocean outfall, a new UV disinfection system, new wastewater piping, new electrical infrastructure and others. The Commission approved the project on an interim basis of 30 years to allow for continued operation and to protect water quality in Arcata Bay. Given the facility’s vulnerability to rising seas, the interim authorization will ensure that the City can implement alternative long-term adaptation approaches and consider relocating the facility out of harm’s way. The City is required to complete a Coastal Hazard Adaptation and Implementation Plan within five years. The City was not supportive of the interim duration of the permit, but local advocates including Humboldt Baykeeper, North Coast Environmental Center and Surfrider Foundation were. The Commission unanimously approved the permit as recommended by staff.|
|Point Reyes National Seashore Water Quality Strategy||The Commission approved the National Park Service’s Water Quality Strategy for Point Reyes National Seashore. The strategy was required to be completed as part of the Park’s General Management Plan, which was approved in April 2021. The Strategy is structured to use the results of inspections by the Regional Water Board and Marin County EHS to identify actions that need to be taken to improve water quality. The strategy calls for integration into Ranch Owning Agreements and short-term leases of action. It also proposes more frequent inspections of ranch sites and annual reporting, though falls short of committing to annual strategy updates.
Several organizations, including Turtle Island Restoration Network and National Wildlife Federation, expressed concern that the Strategy will fail to hold polluters accountable - lacking a firm timeline for enforcement and penalty schedule. The plan fails to commit to achieving water quality standards and doesn't commit to a specific monitoring schedule or identify a funding mechanism.
Staff recommended approval but several Commissioners shared the publics’ concerns. Commissioner Caryl Hart proposed an amending motion to reopen the General Management Plan hearing and ensure new long term ranch leases were not signed until water quality issues were resolved. This motion failed and the Commission ultimately approved the Water Quality Strategy as submitted by the National Parks Service.