September Hearing Report

From ActCoastal

By Mandy Sackett | Published 2017/10/18

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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.

September Coastal Commission Hearing

The September Coastal Commission hearing was located in Cambria. The two day agenda was slightly lighter than usual. On Wednesday, the Surfrider Foundation presented during public comment highlighting ongoing permit violations associated with the shoreline armoring revetment at Goleta Beach. The meeting resulted in one vote chart, a new seawall protecting post Coastal Act development in Del Mar, which can be seen here.

Camino Del Mar, Del Mar Seawall

The proposed seawall would remove unpermitted and emergency shoreline armoring and allow a new seawall to be constructed in its place to protect a home that was constructed in 1980, after the Coastal Act went into effect. In 1987, a shoreline protection device was built without a CDP. Based on a review of the California Records Project photographs, the device was modified in 1989 and 1997. None of these modifications were authorized through a CDP.

Later, in 2015, 200 cubic yards of riprap was installed under an emergency permit in advanced of the 2016 El Nino storm season. The riprap permit was extended two years in a row and now the applicant is proposing a permanent seawall put in its place to protect post Coastal Act development.

The Surfrider Foundation spoke during the public comment portion of this item and commended staff for the conditions that tie the proposed permit to redevelopment of the adjacent home it is protecting as well as the mitigation fee. But added that by only going so far, the Commission is missing an important opportunity to use all of the tools available to help communities protect their coastal resources. Here, the Commission can set an important precedent on interim seawall policy – to protect our coast between now and when LCPs are updated to include comprehensive sea level rise adaptation policies and planning.

Unfortunately, the staff report praises the seawall’s ability to be made higher over time in response to sea level rise. Instead, any wave overtopping should indicate a need to rechannel energy into a longer-term solution.

Commissioners engaged in a lively discussion on the diocese, expressing concern about this projects and its effects given sea level rise, coastal erosion and the impact on public resources. Chair Bochco mentioned concern that staff’s recommendation will prejudice the LCP update for sea level rise and coastal hazards that is currently under way. Ultimately, the Commission approved the CDP according staff’s recommendation in a 7-1 vote.

We’ve said it before - hard armoring is killing our beaches. When we meet rising seas with seawalls and revetments, we lose our beaches, the recreational opportunities they provide and the benefits our coastal economy brings to the entire state.

Goleta Beach

The Surfrider Foundation has spoken in front of the Commission on multiple occasions about Goleta Beach and the ongoing coastal armoring saga that continues to exacerbate erosion at the popular beach. On Wednesday, during public comment, Surfrider gave an update on Goleta Beach. The County of Santa Barbara has applied yet again for a permit to keep the 948 foot emergency permitted rock revetment that was installed earlier this year. Unfortunately, the rock revetment is impacting the Grunion run in a serious way. Grunion run from March to September and have a very specific cycle. The habitat that the grunions need has been demolished by the rock revetment. When the Grunion try to run and spawn, there is no beach and they get trapped in the rocks. The County has also been in violation of almost every condition of their existing armoring permits for several years now. An entire generation of grunion are suffering as a direct result of this unpermitted, poorly constructed situation.