In the early 2000’s Mr. Goetz purchased the land immediately adjacent to the stairs at Terramar beach in Carlsbad, and decided to build two homes on the land. In 2002, he obtained the appropriate permits to build the houses at a 40-45 ft. set back, which would be safe from erosion for 75 years according to various geology reports. In 2004, the homes were constructed, and in 2008 he filed for an emergency permit from the City of Carlsbad to construct a seawall after 5 feet of bluff collapsed. The episodic nature of bluff collapse in that area was well documented and expected. The seawall was justified as being needed “protect public safety” which is not an allowable use under Carlsbad’s Local Coastal Plan or the Coastal Act, so in 2010 Surfrider filed a lawsuit. 

Now after four years have passed, and several new geology reports, this issue is finally being heard by the California Coastal Commission in June 2014. In the time that has passed, the applicant has changed their justification for the seawall and is now claiming that the houses are threatened. However, both Coastal Commission Staff and Surfrider disagree with that assertion; the Coastal Commission Staff report can be found here, and Surfrider’s comment letter can be found here. According to the Coastal Commission Geologist and Engineer, the homes are not threatened, and the seawall can be removed without threatening the house. Whenever a homeowner builds something under an “emergency permit” they acknowledge that the structure is viewed as temporary, and may need to be removed. This situation is a perfect example of how bluff-top homeowners occasionally abuse the emergency permit process in order to obtain a seawall, and we are hopeful that the Coastal Commission will stand up and discourage this type of abuse.