November Hearing Report
By Mandy Sackett | Published 2017/12/22
November Coastal Commission Hearing
The Coastal Commission’s November hearing was a busy two days at Bodega Bay. Key issues included protection of ESHA in Marin County, shoreline armoring in San Francisco, and coastal access in Santa Barbara County. The Commission made “good” decisions on two key votes - Lawson's Landing and Cojo Jalama Ranch - but continues to make poor decisions when it comes to shoreline armoring.
Lawson’s Landing is a 960-acre shoreline property that includes an oceanfront campground, immediately south of the community of Dillon Beach, in western Marin County.
In 2011, the Commission approved a consolidated coastal development permit (CDP) for both new and after-the-fact recreational visitor-serving development and habitat restoration and conservation on the property. The applicant is now proposing to amend the original CDP to allow for 1) phased construction of a wastewater management system; 2) construction of a recreational visitor center referred to as the “Lawson’s Landing Center”; and 3) habitat restoration.
The Commission specified through conditions in the 2011 permit that future development of Area 6 of the property could occur only within legally developed areas. Yet, in this application, the Applicant is requesting that the proposed facilities be located partially in Area 6 - and disrupt environmentally sensitive habitat areas.
Opponents, including the Environmental Action Committee of Marin County, the Surfrider Foundation and the California Coastal Protection Network, asserted that the proposed development wound undermine the conflict resolution and special conditions of the 2011 permit which prohibited development in the proposed location and that the staff report contains an insufficient alternatives analysis. The development would also threaten valuable coastal resources as Area 6 contains substantial ESHA and California Red-Legged Frog habitat.
Ultimately, the Commissioners agreed with the opposition and voted to deny the permit amendment application. Read the full vote chart, here.
Cojo Jalama Ranch
The Cojo Jalama Ranch enforcement action addresses unpermitted development activities that were conducted across a large coastal property, known as the Cojo and Jalama Ranches in Santa Barbara County, which occupies an 11-mile swath of coastline on either side of Point Conception. The unpermitted development subject to enforcement action includes the installation of thirty seven water wells and significant sensitive habitat destruction in several locations, all done without approval under the Coastal Act.
In October of 2017, after many years of concerted efforts to reach an amicable settlement of the issues on the Ranch, and more specifically over the last six months, the property owner agreed to the terms of the proposed Consent Orders. Notably, the owners will transfer approximately 36 acres of coastal property to the county park to expand the campground and park area and will pay $500,000 to the Commission’s Violation Remediation Account.
The Environmental Defense Center, Surfrider Foundation, California Native Plant Society, California Coastal Protection Network, Gaviota Coast Conservancy all supported the proposed consent order and settlement agreement. Commissioners unanimously approved the cease and desist and consent restoration order. For more information, the vote chart.
Sharp Park Golf Course
San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department (SFRPD) sought an after-the-fact authorization of a previously constructed shoreline armoring structure that is located seaward of the Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica, consisting of an earthen berm approximately 3,200 feet in total length, including two sections of rock riprap fronting the berm, approximately 1,425 feet in length total.
Since the 1980’s SFRPD has not only undergone repair and/or maintenance to the existing earthen berm (originally built in the 1940’s) but instead created a new armoring structure at this location over time.
The proposed armoring structure is designed to protect the existing Sharp Park Golf Course. The Golf Course provides an affordable, visitor-serving recreational opportunity open to the public at a lower cost than most other golf clubs in the area, many of which are private and require membership fees. The staff report also claims that impacts to coastal resources from the armoring can be appropriately mitigated through conditions of approval requiring public access enhancements. However, opponents argued that the existing golf course is not coastal dependent and does not qualify for shoreline armoring and that access to and along the beach itself should not be sacrificed for access near the beach.
Ultimately, the permit was approved with an amendment to reduce the duration of the permit from 20 to 10 years and monitoring report from 10 to 5 years - a slight improvement but ultimately, this seawall should not have been permitted. For complete information, see the vote chart.