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January 2010 at the Coastal Commission

Today at the Coastal Commission Hearing two big things happened:

  1. A mitigation fee was imposed for a seawall at the Li residence in Encinitas to mitigate the loss of recreational beach. The fee will be charged for the area of land occupied by the seawall and the future loss of beach caused by the seawall fixing the back of the beach. You can read the staff report for this project at this link. Since 2001 I have been working tirelessly to make the loss of recreational beach part of the mitigation fees. The fact that are charging mitigation fees for the occupation of beach space and limiting the permit to 20years is related to work I started at that time. Please see this presentation and paper for a 2001 presentation I gave at RESTORING THE BEACH - Science, Policy and FundingCalifornia Shore and Beach Preservation Association (CSBPA)and California Coastal Coalition (CalCoast) Joint Conference with local sponsorSan Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG)
    San Diego, CA November 8-10, 2001.
    I have given additional papers in similar conferences since that time and also commented on numerous permits to have this mitigation included. The first such mitigation in San Diego was for the Las Brisas project. You can read that Staff Report here.
  2. A resolution to support world designation of surfing reserves. You can read the staff report and resolution here. Why is this important - Surf breaks have not been studied for environmental impacts in most sand replenishment or seawall projects and definitely not in Army Corps projects. This is a huge move in the right direction.

Here is the letter I sent CCC staff (Gary Cannon) with respect to the Li project above:

Dear Gary,

As a followup to our phone conversation, I would like to go on record as an
advisor to the San Diego County chapter of the Surfrider Foundation and as VP of
CalBeach Advocates, that we object to the issuance of a permit for a new seawall
or for an after the fact approval of the existing seawall for the following
agenda item to be heard on Friday:

Application No. 6-07-133 (Li, Encinitas) Application of Bernard Li to remove 6
ft. of concrete footing from seaward side of unpermitted seawall, construct 10
ft. high addition to unpermitted seawall, install 35 ft. high tied-back concrete
columns between existing ones and add 1.5 ft. thick colored and textured facing
over seawall, on public beach below 680 Neptune Avenue, Encinitas, San Diego
County. (GDC-SD)

At p13 of the staff report it states:

"When the residential duplex at the top of the bluff was constructed in
approximately 1975, the property owner submitted documentation certifying that
the residence would not be threatened by erosion if sited 25 feet inland of the
bluff edge. "

Coastal Act requires that "New Development" per 30253..."(b) Assure stability
and structural integrity, and neither create nor contribute significantly to
erosion, geologic instability, or destruction of the site or surrounding area or
in any way require the construction of protective devices that would
substantially alter natural landforms along bluffs and cliffs... "

We strongly believe the applicant was required to provide the 1975 documentation
certifying no threat from erosion in order to comply with 30253. Is there
institutional memory for this? Or because they put in an un-permitted wall,
will they get a free pass on complying with 30253?

At the October 2009 Coastal Commission Hearing, in the following matter,

Permit No. A-3-CAP-99-023-A1 (Swan and Green Valley Corporation, Capitola).
Request by Richard and Nancy Swan and the Green Valley Corporation to amend
permit to eliminate the existing condition prohibiting future shoreline armoring
(that applies to the Green Valley Corporation property) and to construct
approximately 115-ft. section of contoured concrete seawall fronting that Green
Valley Corporation property and adjacent to existing seawall on adjacent
property (on Swan property) on beach and bluffs fronting 4840 and 4850 Cliff
Drive in Capitola, Santa Cruz County. (SC-SC)

In the above matter, the Commission took a strong position that development
completed under a Coastal Development Permit that should not require shoreline
protection must not subsequently get that shoreline protection. We strongly
believe the principal structure in the Li residence is not entitled to
protection and urge denial of the permit and an enforcement action to remove the
unpermitted seawall and relocate threatened areas of the principal structure.

If the Commission makes findings that the principal structure is threatened and
is entitled to shoreline protection, which we are on record as strongly
objecting to, we agree with the staff's proposed mitigation fees based on
property values. This fee is meant to mitigate for the impact of placement loss,
fixing the beach and the associated loss of beach area and recreation. We feel
this fee will mitigate the impacts in the immediate area but will underestimate
the complete impact in that this seawall will eventually block lateral access to
the beach and impact up and downcoast beach access. We hope mitigation for this
impact may be added to the fee in some way.

As it is not likely we will be able to appear at the hearing we hope that you
can summarize our concerns to the Commission and place this on the record for
their review.

Best regards,

Jim Jaffee
VP CalBeach Advocates
Advisor to the San Diego County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation