The Coastal Commission reluctantly approved in a vote of 6:4 a proposal submitted by three separate Pleasure Point property owners (parcels located at 3000, 3006 & 3020 Pleasure Point Drive) to repair the Sewer Peak public access and stairway, replace damaged pre-existing seawalls, remove debris and revetment rocks, and install a new seawall with a public pathway at the foot of the seawall and stairs down to the ocean bedrock and tide pools.
On September 6, 2023 the Coastal Commission awarded $780,000 in Local Coastal Program (LCP) Local Assistance grant funds to the County of Santa Cruz to complete a series of technical studies on sea level rise (SLR) hazards, economic impacts, and adaptation pathways that will culminate in an LCP amendment on SLR. The County will now send out requests for proposals (RFPs) and award the contract by November, 2023. The contractor, once selected will meet with all of the major stakeholders, complete a coastal vulnerability study to identify those areas at greatest risk of flooding and coastal erosion with triggers and timelines for adaptation strategies, which will result in recommended revisions to the County’s LCP. As a result, It appears the County will have to delay the approval of the revised LCP until December 2025.
County Approves Submission of Grant Application to CCC for sea level rise vulnerability assessment and preparation of related Local Coastal Program General Plan
The County Board of Supervisor’s just approved the submission of a grant application to the Coastal Commission to fund $733,000 to fund a sea level rise vulnerability assessment and preparation of related Local Coastal Program General Plan, which is expected to be awarded by CCC this summer. Then the County will select a Coastal Engineering Consultant to complete the Vulnerability Study and begin work on revising the LCP this fall.
Superior Court of CA has ruled against the CCC in their interpretation of “Pre-existing structures which are entitled to shoreline protection”. In the case of Casa Mira Homeowner’s Association (San Mateo) vs the CCC, the Court ruled the CCC exceeded the authority and limitations of the Coastal Act in their interpretation of section 30235, that only “Pre-existing Structures present before the passage of the Coastal Act (1977) were entitled to any shoreline protection”. The Court finds that CCC has mis-interpreted an ambiguous section of the Statue, and is attempting to add new language restricting any new shoreline protection for existing costal structures. The Court further stipulated that any existing structure (present tense) is entitled to shoreline protection if it is in danger of coastal erosion, provided that the shoreline protection device does not restrict public access to the beaches and shoreline.
The Commissioners voted (9:0) to reject the Santa Cruz County’s proposed LCP Amendments, and sided with the Surfriders, and recommendations on the CCC Staff Report. The CCC Staff report asserted that the LCP Amendments were poorly written, with many internal inconsistencies, were not consistent with the Coastal Act (1977), which generally prohibits any new shoreline armoring, and most existing armoring may need to be removed to allow managed retreat to preserve the public beaches as sea level rises.
CCC Hearing; Commissioners accepted staff recommendations and Denied Santa Cruz County proposed LCP Amendments
Coastal Commissioners accepted staff recommendations and denied the County’s proposed LCP Amendments at the CCC Hearing 0n 10/14/22. Specifically, they found the proposed LCP was not consistent with the Coastal Act, was poorly written, and did not adequately address the impact of sea level rise on public beaches, access to the coastline, surf and waves. There were opposed to modifying their definition of “Existing Structures” as of 1977, the proposed “Shoreline Protection Area”, and wanted a plan to address the effects of SLR on coastal erosion and loss of public beaches, that would require “managed retreat” in urban areas of the County. They also wanted a plan that was area specific, for each neighborhood. The Commissioners do not plan to send any more specifics beyond what was included in the CCC staff report of 9/30/22. They encouraged the County to continue to work with the CCC staff to identify and resolve the major differences and resubmit a revised LCP for reconsideration in 2023.
The County staff is committed to pursuing the clearest and quickest route to getting an LCP amendment certified by the Coastal Commission which is reasonable and feasible for the County to implement to address sea level rise, and to continue to meet with CCC staff and major stakeholders to reach consensus where possible. It is imperative that the LCP amendment effort which has taken over 6 years to get to this point, not be abandoned.
Steve Forer, President of CPOA-SC, will present the following Testimony at the CCC Hearing on 10/14/22
We do not believe that the Coastal Commission is faced with an either/or choice when it comes to coastal policy
decisions as we describe in the above section entitled Shoreline Protection A balanced approach was taken by
the Coastal Commission to protect the shoreline and existing structures with the approval of the East Cliff Drive
County Parkway on December 13, 2007, CDP-07-19 & A-3-SCO-07-015 approved with conditions. Property owners are afforded certain rights and those rights are delineated in The Fifth Amendment of the US
Constitution and the Constitution of the State of California Article I – Declaration of Rights – Section 1. Should
the CCC take actions that require a property owner to allow the ocean to consume their structure, effectively
taking it for a public use, it is imperative that there be an established mechanism to pay full market value for the
property that is being sacrificed for the planning goals of preserving the beach and comport with the Takings
reference in the Coastal Act, Section 30010.
The Coastal Commission staff does not support Santa Cruz County’s proposed Local Coastal Program Amendment (LCPA) to protect the shoreline, bluffs and existing development, particularly in the area in which your property is located along the coastal bluffs and will likely be recommending denial to their Commissioners on October 14. We urge you to submit a comment in support of the proposed LCP amendments before 10/12/22. Please click on the attached link to submit your comments directly to the Coastal Commissioners.