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Solana Beach Geologic Setback Line Upheld

Surfrider's San Diego County Chapter held the Coastal Commission and the City of Solana Beach to their own blufftop setback policies for new development.

As the coastline of Solana Beach continues to become more fortified and sea levels continue to rise, it will be even more likely that the public beach fronting the bluffs will become inaccessible at all but the lowest tides.

The Coastal Commission reviewed a permit application for a remodel of an existing blufftop home in Solana Beach. Coastal Commission staff recommended denial of the application since the majority of the development would be located in a non-conforming, hazardous location. There is currently no shoreline protection below the existing home. While the proposed alterations do not constitute “redevelopment”, they will extend the economic life of the structure in a hazardous location, seaward of the City’s Geologic Setback Line (GSL). The GSL factors in sea level rise and future bluff erosion rates as well as historic rates of erosion.

If blufftop properties are allowed to increase the degree of non-conformity of bluff top structures by undertaking substantial improvements seaward of the GLS and thus extending the life of the structures indefinitely, eventually the structures will require shoreline protection.

Repair and maintenance of the structure is permitted and the applicant could potentially redevelop the site and construct a home with a significantly larger setback from the bluff edge than currently exists. 

Commissioners agreed with staff and the Surfrider Foundation and unanimously denied the project.


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Our chapter maintains two volunteer-led committees dedicated to issues related to the preservation of our coast. You can learn more about them by clicking below, or start HERE to get some background on Surfrider's Coastal Preservation Initiative


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