Santa Cruz County Planning Department has held a number of Public Hearings to solicit public input on their Coastal Sustainability Project. This project includes a review of the impact of Sea Level Rise on Coastal Beaches and Bluffs, housing, public infrastructure and public beach access, as well as erosion of inland properties due to climate change, more severe and frequent storms and fires.
The Casa Mira Homeowner’s Association is suing the California Coastal Commission over the denial of coastal development permit to construct a 257- foot seawall to protect a collapsing bluff that fronts Casa Mira townhomes built in 1984. Casa Mira worked tirelessly with CCC staff for three years and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop a proposal that met every one of staff’s seemingly endless objections. Coastal staff had recommended approval, but the Commission over ruled and denied the permit. The Trial is set for October in San Mateo Superior Court.
Study on the stability and erosion of California Coastal Bluffs was recently conducted by researchers at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography indicated cliffs along California’s northernmost coast have been eroding faster than the more populated bluffs of Southern California. See article recently published in the LA Times.
Property owners of 200 – 300 Beach Dr., (29 properties) won law suite against County of Santa Cruz for unlawful seizure of walkway in front of the homes. The judge ruled that the County did not hold title to this walkway, had previously declined claim of public right of way, and did not provide any maintenance or improvements to protect the public right of way. Therefore, the County could not claim any rights to the walkway.
Article written by John Erskine, Esq, with Nossaman LLP, provides a detailed and practical guideline and summary of the origins of the California Coastal Act, Sea Level Rise, and adaptation strategies for both public and private projects in Coastal Hazards Zones. (To view and read this document, open as a separate tab.)
This year, the California Legislature is doubling-down, having introduced more than a dozen bills intended to address sea level rise in some form or fashion. From a “takings” perspective, it appears the proposed legislation has been crafted broadly and in such a way as to avoid inverse condemnation or regulatory takings liability, but the real question will be how local jurisdictions implement the various programs (assuming the legislation is adopted).
The County has held two Zoom meetings on 2/3 & 2/17, to review proposed changes to the Live Oak Parking Program. 1) Expand the area covered to include all streets within two blocks of the ocean between the Harbor and Capitola City border (includes Opal Cliffs), 2) Extend seasonal permit from March to October (previously May to September), 3) Eliminate stickers and use Digital Parking App to obtain permits (seasonal and day use), 4) Seasonal permit fee $75 for residents and non-residents, 5) Temporary permit $2/hr for day use on Weekends and Holidays, 6) Residents will be allowed to register up to 5 vehicles but may only park one on the street at a time during restricted hours 11 a.m – 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays March – October, and 7) increased parking enforcement. The Live Oak Parking Program Application is expected to be submitted for Coastal Permit on March 1st, and to the board of Supervisors for approval on April 13th. New parking season begins on May 1st.
Petitioners are five property owners with a private driveway easement on Geoffrey Drive,
Santa Cruz, located on a bluff above Twin Lakes State Beach. Petitioners challenge the Coastal
Commission’s jurisdiction to (1) reverse the County’s exemption determination on their
application for a Development Permit to install a gate and fence on their easement; (2) require
Petitioners to either remove the gate and fence or apply for a Coastal Development Permit
(CDP); and (3) impose civil penalties if Plaintiffs refuse to remove the gate and fence to allow
public access to Twin Lakes State Beach. The CA Superior Court ruled that the CA Coastal Commission does not have the authority to impose unreasonable fines and fees to an approved application for Coastal Development Permit, after it has been approved by Santa Cruz County in accordance to it’s approved Local Coastal Plan.
The legislation (SB 1090) presented by Sen. Patricia Bates, a Republican from Laguna Niguel, to the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee in Sacramento would obligate public agencies and private owners of seafront property in San Diego and Orange Counties to mitigate coastal erosion.
SB 1090 would require the Coastal Commission to review and approve a public agency’s or homeowner’s application for erosion-mitigation efforts in regard to planting, drainage and seawall or other reinforcing structures. Approved applicants also would have to pay for the costs of sand replenishment and permit processing.
Homeowners fighting sea level rise say going to the Coastal Commission for any form of protection has increasingly become a non-starter. This new legislation (SB 1090), supporters say, would streamline a frustrating permitting process that could ultimately save lives. They point to the bluff collapse in Encinitas last summer that killed three women.