In March, we reported the California Coastal Commission (CCC) approved Solana Beach’s Land Use Plan (LUP). The plan included some important elements.
- First, a 20 year sunset clause was adopted to evaluate if a seawall should remain on the public beach. They could evaluate after 20 years if the seawall were blocking access and wrecking waves.
- Second, there would finally be some closure for using public land for private seawalls. The CCC required the City to determine a lease fee for using public property for private seawalls. That is is right, the seawalls are built on you public beach with no fee for use. 18 months after LUP certification the Fees would finally be determined.
That was all about to change when the City certified the final changes in the LUP. The Beach and Bluff Conservancy and local resident Joseph Steinberg sued the CCC for approving the LUP. Among other things, they claim the CCC coerced the City into adopting the 20 year sunset clause.
The BBC is mistaken. The city revised the LUP and included the 20 year time limit after a 6 week comment period that culminated in a City council Hearing on June 29, 2011. In the staff report for that public hearing was the following quote from City Staff to Council,”In considering the revisions as proposed by CCC staff and incorporated in the LUP， the City Council is to evaluate whether the CCC staff’s proposal for a 20-year expiration on BRD permits best meets the Coastal Act’s policies and how this requirement would affect future development，the environment，and coastal access.” The City Council and staff knowingly approved the 20 year plan. They did the right thing. The made it clear there is no right for a seawall. You have to get permission. Especially when built on public beaches and property.
And to make it crystal clear, the Council added language at the June 2011 specifically designating that private property owners were leasing public land in building seawalls.
What the BBC failed to note is the painstaking process it took to get to that June 2011 hearing and through the March 2012 approval by the CCC. They failed to note that there a Citizen’s Committee formed to solve the issue within the city and when they became concerned the process was not going their way, the BBC secretly paid Attorney Jon Corn tens of thousands of dollars to serve as a “volunteer” citizen on the Committee. When this injustice was exposed, the committee folded and the difficult Solomonic process of drafting an LUP was handed over to the City.
Under the circumstances they split the baby.
- The property owners lost an original provision that would allow seawalls for 75 years.
- The public lost a Financing Plan that permitted acquisition of more shoreline property using seawall Land Lease Fees