Dear Supervisors:
The Coastal Property Owners Association of Santa Cruz County provided testimony at the 10/14/22 hearing along with Supervisors Manu Koenig, Matt Machado Director of Planning and Public Works, David Carlson County Planner,  Smart Coastal, Pajaro Dunes HOA, and over 25 individuals testifying on behalf of Surfriders.
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. The Commissioners declined to provide any more detail in response to the denial of the proposed LCP Amendments, but did indicate the following:
  1. The definition of “existing structures” must be tied to those structures built before the Coastal Act (1977), without any major renovation or redevelopment since 1977.
  2. Absolutely no new shoreline armoring would be allowed.
  3. They rejected the proposal for the “Shoreline Protection Exception Area”, and the proposed uniform seawall and pathway along Opal Cliffs.
  4. The LCP Amendments need to be totally re-written to be consistent with the Coastal Act (1977) and Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance (2018).
  5. The LCP Amendments must include a Hazards Assessment, to identify those areas which will be subject to flooding, coastal erosion with each foot of sea level rise.
  6. To require mandatory “Monitoring, Maintenance and Repair Plans” for existing shoreline protection, to ensure the shoreline armoring is stable, safe, and does not impact the public beaches and shoreline access.
  7. To address “Managed Retreat”, and removal of shoreline armoring when public beaches are impacted by sea level rise, with neighborhood specific plans
  8. To revise the Tsunami zones maps and evacuation plans.
CPOA has offered two concessions:
  • Coastal Property Owners are aware and have accepted the risks, liability, and responsibility of owning and maintaining structures in Coastal Hazard zones.
  • All property owners with any shoreline protection devices shall file a “Monitoring, Maintenance and Repair Plan” with the County and CCC, and shall conduct periodic inspections at least every five years to ensure the ongoing stability and safety of the shoreline protection device, repair, and retrieve wayward rocks and debris as needed.
We understand the LCP Amendments are tied to the County’s Housing ordinance, and a State mandate for an updated LCP to address sea level rise, and therefore must be completed in 2023.  Unfortunately, the County will have very limited ability to negotiate with the CCC on the revised LCP amendments for Coastal Beach and Bluffs.  We urge the County to not to accept:
  •  CCC’s definition of “existing structures” being those structures which were present prior to the Coastal Act (January 1, 1977).  CCC continues to push this definition, to retroactively apply coastal building restrictions and additional requirements to the majority of coastal properties.
  • Planned Managed Retreat in the urbanized areas of Santa Cruz County
  • Removal of existing and permitted shoreline armoring along West Cliff Dr., East Cliff Drive, Beach Drive, Rio Del Mar and Pajaro Dunes.
Santa Cruz County will need to make major changes to the proposed LCP Amendments. Matt Machado, Director of Planning and Public Works said they will continue to meet with CCC staff and other major stakeholders and start to revise the LCP in January 2023. There is a planned workshop by the Local Government Sea Level Rise Working Group on Neighborhood and Regional Approaches to Adaptation Planning on January 27, 2023.  CPOA will continue to work with the County, attend public hearings, and advocate for revised LCP Amendments which protect the rights of property owners, and provide a reasonable approach to addressing sea level rise.
Thank you for your consideration.
Steve Forer
President, CPOA-SC