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Trying to place a value on the beach


The San Diego Union Tribune recently published an article about the Solana Beach fee study that is being conducted to determine how much owners of sea walls should have to pay to mitigate the negative impacts of the sea walls on recreation at the beach.

"Walking on the shoreline, building sandcastles and surfing at sun-up may be priceless pastimes in California, but in areas where sea walls are contributing to shrinking beaches, someone’s got to pay.

"At least that’s the philosophy of the California Coastal Commission, which has begun asking cities to put a value on the recreational opportunities lost when sand erodes, and then pass that cost on to property owners who apply for sea wall permits.

"First to face the challenge is Solana Beach, built along 1.7 miles of what is now a heavily armored bluff at the edge of the Pacific Ocean. The city is one of a few coastal towns in the state yet to implement a Local Coastal Program (LCP), which allows municipal governments to oversee limited coastal development without a full Coastal Commission review.

"Solana Beach is finishing its years-long effort to create the plan, which the commission says must now include a recreation mitigation fee. The fee could be rolled out across the state as other cities develop or modify their LCPs, officials said.

“Solana Beach is at the forefront,” said Eric Stevens, a coastal program analyst in the Coastal Commission’s San Diego office. He said some coastal cities have factored recreation into other fees levied on sea walls, but Solana Beach will be the first to create a separate fee and formula for calculating how much the structures are costing the public in lost opportunities."

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