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Response to UT San Diego's Sea Wall Editorial

In response to the UT San Diego's recent biased editorial titled Solana Beach sea wall fight far from over, Surfrider San Diego submitted a commentary to try to set the record straight. Unfortunately, UT San Diego declined to publish the full commentary. They did publish a much shorter version of the commentary as a letter to the editor on June 15 titled Many in Solana Beach unhappy with seawalls. Below is the full text of the commentary:

The UT’s claim that “Solana Beach property owners have every right to be furious over a land use plan” is misleading. We, along with hundreds of other Solana Beach property owners, supported the decisions of the City Council and the Coastal Commission in approving the Land Use Plan (LUP). Without an approved Local Coastal Plan (LCP), all citizens of Solana Beach need a separate Coastal Commission permit for development rather than a single City permit. This LUP is the first step to free them from that burden and get local approval only.

The only party furious with the LUP approval is an isolated vocal minority of front row blufftop homeowners. How can the front row be furious when virtually every seawall they sought has been approved by both the City and the Coastal Commission? How can the front row be furious when they have used public land for these seawalls virtually rent free? How can they be furious when seawalls and private stairs destroy the scenic characteristics of the beach? All of this madness is simply a way for the front row to selfishly continue to occupy public beaches and bluffs by private use of seawalls and stairways. It is a reverse taking of public property for a private use.

As for the impacts that seawalls have on access, recreation, and scenic resources, these have been known since 2002 when the City certified an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). This EIR found that “subsequent projects would have significant long-term impacts to recreation and lateral public access from the construction of seawalls and sea cave notch fills and aesthetics from the construction of seawalls."

If the front row are to be mad at anyone it should be at the citizens of California that overwhelmingly voted in 1972 for Proposition 20  This vote included provisions to create the Coastal Commission and their Land Use Plans that would maximize recreation and access to the shoreline while protecting scenic coastal resources. Sadly, Solana Beach is the last city in San Diego County to adopt an LUP. In the meantime, seawalls are now jeopardizing access to the shoreline and destroying its scenic appeal.

It is a gross misstatement by the UT to assume all property owners are furious. It is only the front row blufftop homeowners filled with fury.

As Commissioner Bochco opined prior to her vote to approve the LUP, “It’s a takings in reverse. I am going to support conditions with the 20 years thinking that 20 years is actually a long time...” to occupy a public beach for a private use. Ronald Reagan once uttered, “Tear down this wall!”, a proclamation we feel would be a better approach than the 20 year renewal clause that is generating so much fury by those living on top of the walls.

Jim Jaffee

Kristin Brinner

Residents of Solana Beach