COASTAL PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION OF SANTA CRUZ COUNTY
May 21, 2019
To Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors:
John Leopold firstname.lastname@example.org
Zach Friend email@example.com
Ryan Coonerty firstname.lastname@example.org
Greg Caput email@example.com
Bruce McPherson firstname.lastname@example.org
Regarding Proposed Local Coastal Program and County Code Amendments Board of Supervisors Agenda Item
Tuesday June 11, 2019 at 9:00AM
Board of Supervisors Chamber
County Government Center
701 Ocean Street, Room 525
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
We continue to have a number of concerns about the County Planning Commission’s proposed Local Coastal Program and process used to obtain public input. Our concerns are:
“¢ Lack of adequate opportunity for public input: no public workshops were offered as promised by the Planning Commission.
“¢ Failure to notify all coastal property owners in Santa Cruz County.
“¢ Planning Commissioners did not adequately consider most of the public input and concerns expressed in writing and through oral comments.
“¢ Planning Commissioners took action prematurely in passing the proposed Local Coastal Plan.
“¢ Planning Commissioners did not adequately consider letter from the Coastal Commission dated 3/12/19, urging the Planning Department to delay decision:
“we strongly advise that you not take any action on these proposed policies at this time, and instead spend a little more time fleshing out the proposed concepts and policies, including so that the general public as well as other keenly interested participants are able to fully understand the proposed coastal hazard program, including all of its proposed armoring-related tradeoffs.”
“¢ The concept of an “all cause and unlimited” release of liability, indemnification of the County and Coastal Commission, and “hold harmless” has been recently been ruled unlawful in San Diego.
“¢ Coastal property owners of Santa Cruz are not willing to sign an “all cause and unlimited” release of liability, indemnification, and hold harmless document to be recorded against our property. It is unreasonable to require coastal property owners to sign a release of liability, indemnification, and hold harmless document for future, undetermined and unlimited events. We have proposed alternative language.
“¢ The proposed “Sand Mitigation fees” are unreasonable, not based on proven scientific principles, and amount to excessive tax without representation.
“¢ The current term limits of existing permitted armoring shall not be altered. Coastal Hazards assessments shall only be required for new or substantially modified structures and new armoring devices.
“¢ For structures less than 25 feet of edge of coastal bluffs or cliffs shall be granted an expedited permit for protective armoring per the terms of this LCP, to avoid emergency permits. 12 of the 43 homes on Opel Cliffs are now 25 feet or less from the coastal bluffs which are at risk of further erosion. Many of these homes are occupied by permanent residents.
“¢ We met with Planning Director Kathleen Molloy and Resource Planner David Carlson on February 5, 2019. We submitted detailed recommended changes and clarifications to the County’s proposed LCP. However. most of our major concerns were not adequately addressed.
“¢ We met with the Coastal Commission and Planning Department representatives on March 19, 2019, where it was agreed that the LCP approval should be delayed, and not brought to the Board of Supervisor’s for approval until all identified issues had been resolved, and another draft of the LCP prepared for public comment.
“¢ However, the County Planning Department has indicated they do not plan to make any further changes in the LCP before it is presented to the Board of Supervisors for approval on June 11, 2019.
The following Essential changes and/or clarifications to the County’s proposed LCP (Exhibit X of the March 13, 2019 staff report) are requested:
Page 155, add to 7th bullet under County of Santa Cruz Guiding Principles
Establish triggers for when property owners would be required to address imminent danger from coastal hazards (within 10 years), expedite permit requests and avoid emergency permits. For structures less than 25 feet of edge of coastal bluffs or cliffs shall be granted an expedited permit for protective armoring per the terms of this LCP, to avoid emergency permits.
1. Page 156, add to 14th bullet under County of Santa Cruz Guiding Principles
Recognize that the County will periodically update the Safety Element and applicable regulations in order to reflect evolving conditions and best available science. The planning horizon and timeframe of this current Safety Element is to the year 2040 when it is expected these policies will be updated. Applications submitted after the update is adopted would be subject to updated policies. The current term limits of existing permitted armoring shall not be altered.
2. Page 159, 6.4.5, Geologic Hazards Assessment and Technical Reports in Coastal Hazard Areas, add
Reports must be accepted by the County in order to use report findings as the basis for design of proposed structures or improvements. Coastal Hazards assessments shall only be required for new or substantially modified structures and new armoring devices.
3. Page 160, 6.4.9 Required Recordation on Deed of Notice of Geologic/Coastal Hazard, acceptance of Risk, Liability Release, and Indemnification as a Condition of Coastal Development Permit Approval. Change to filing with the Permit Application, and restricted liability release.
As a condition of approval of Coastal Development Permits for development activities (SCCC16.10) on sites subject to coastal hazards, require the applicant to record on title/deed to the property, prior to issuance of a building permit or grading permit, a Notice of Geologic/Coastal
Hazard, Acceptance of Risk, and Liability Release, and Indemnification. The Notice shall be in a form approved by the County of Santa Cruz, and shall include, but not be limited to, the following acknowledgements and agreements, on behalf of the applicant and all successors and assigns, as applicable to the specific project:
As a condition for any new permits for coastal development or armoring on sites subject to coastal hazards, that the applicant file a Notice of Geologic/Coastal Hazard, Acceptance of Risk, Liability Release and Indemnification to the County and Coastal Commission for potential harm or danger to the public or safety hazards due to natural erosion of cliffs, bluffs, sea level rise, storm surges or other natural events (resulting from the new development).
4. Page 162, 6.4.13, Modification, Reconstruction, or Replacement of Damaged Structures on Coastal Bluffs, modify language to include other natural disasters
For structures involuntarily damaged by other than coastal hazards (fire, earthquake or other natural disasters for example), where the loss involves 50 percent or more of the Major Structural Components, allow repair “in kind”, but encourage relocation to increase the setback if feasible.
Casualty structural loss (up to 75% of combined structural components) due to fire, earthquake or other natural disaster not involving coastal erosion or bluff stability, shall be allowed to reconstruct in kind and will not be subject to any of the new requirements.
5. Page 166, 6.4.25, Structural Shoreline and Coastal Bluff Armoring, add language
(a) Limit shoreline and coastal bluff armoring to serve coastal dependent uses or to protect existing structures or public beaches from significant threats. The armoring shall be designed to eliminate or mitigate adverse impacts on local shoreline sand supply. Armoring may also be considered for vacant lots where both adjacent parcels are already similarly protected, or vacant lots which through lack of protection threaten adjacent or nearby developed lots; or those which protect public roads and infrastructure, and coastal recreation areas.
For pre-existing permitted armoring, with an approved Maintenance Monitoring & Repair Plan, property owners should submit a written report to the County & Coastal Commission as required to address the stability and sustainability of the armoring in lieu of current sea level rise, tide and storm hazards, and to file for a permit renewal according to the terms of the County’s LCP. Maintenance and Repair of existing permitted armoring shall not be subject to the required Geologic/Coastal Hazard, Acceptance of Risk, and Liability Release.
6. Page 167, Conditions of Approval, 1) Sand Mitigation, add
(1) Sand Mitigation – to mitigate for loss of beach quality sand which would otherwise have been deposited on the beach the County may collect a fee proportional to the impact of the project on the deposit of beach quality sand which would have otherwise occurred to implement projects which mitigate for loss of beach quality sand due to shoreline or coastal bluff armoring. The methodology used to determine the appropriate mitigation fee will be as approved by the California Coastal Commission and which may be administratively amended from time to time by the Commission.
The mitigation fee shall be deposited in an interest-bearing account designated by the Planning Director or County Parks Director. The Sand mitigation fees must be reasonable and represent the actual cost of replacing lost beach sand. When determining the potential lost sand due to new or revised armoring, the natural seasonal migration of sand as a result of the Harbor Jetty construction, storm surges, and other oceanic events shall be taken into consideration. Coastal property owners shall not be held responsible for the natural erosion and migration of sand levels.
The following additional changes and/or clarifications to the County’s proposed LCP (Exhibit X of the March 13, 2019 staff report) are requested:
1. Page 153
The objective of the coastal bluffs and beaches policies is to recognize and minimize risks to life, property, and public infrastructure in coastal hazard areas; and to minimize adverse impacts on coastal resources from development in coastal hazard areas, while protecting the constitutional rights of existing coastal property owners.
2. Page 155, clarify new 6th bullet under County of Santa Cruz Guiding Principles
Recognize that existing legally permitted structures and armoring will continue to exist pursuant to such permits. New requirements shall only be imposed as a result of a triggering event pursuant to these policies including but not limited to an application for a new permit that exceeds a defined scope of work, a violation of County Code, or the structure or armoring becomes unsafe. (The triggering events, and under what conditions would a new permit be required for existing legally permitted structures or armoring needs to be clarified. Only new permit requests for substantially modified structures > 50%, redevelopment, or new site development should be required to meet any of the new requirements.)
3. Page 155, add to 9th bullet under County of Santa Cruz Guiding Principles
Recognize that the dredging practices of the Santa Cruz Port District, especially dredging spoils disposal location, have impacts to the amount of sand transported downcoast during winter months and to the amount of downcoast erosion. Work with the Santa Cruz Port District to implement dredging disposal policies which minimize downcoast impact. Recognize the negative impact of the Santa Cruz Harbor and jetties on the downstream beach sand supply and seasonal sand migration.
4. Page 156, clarify 17th bullet under County of Santa Cruz Guiding Principles, sub-bullet 3
Ensure Agreement to Monitoring, Maintenance and Repair Programs are implemented for existing shoreline and coastal bluff armoring, as required by the terms of the initial permits. (In some cases, armoring devices were installed before the Coastal Act, not requiring a permit. MMRP should not be required for these armoring structures.)
5. Page 157, add & clarify 17th bullet under County of Santa Cruz Guiding Principles, sub-bullet 7
Require property owners to recognize that as sea level rises, the public trust boundary will in most cases migrate inland, resulting in currently private lands becoming public land that is held in the public trust for public trust purposes, including public access and recreation and other coastal-dependent uses. Access to public beaches, public land, and recreational areas shall be maintained, when feasible, while respecting the rights of property owners. (As the sea level rises, and median high tide level migrates inland restricting public access to beaches and recreational areas, how will it be determined what portion of the private property must be forfeited to the public trust, and what the compensation to the property owner will be?).
6. Page 159, 6.4.9, Prohibit New Lots or Parcels in Coastal Hazard Areas, add
Do not allow the creation of new lots or parcels (excludes lot splits of parcels with existing structures) in areas subject to coastal hazards, or within geologic setback areas necessary to ensure a building site for an expected 75 or 100-year lifetime, or where development would require the construction of public facilities or utility transmission lines within coastal hazard areas.
7. Page 165, Project Review, add
(d) New or revised shoreline or coastal bluff armoring shall be designed as close as possible to the coastal bluff or structure requiring protection and must be designed to minimize adverse impacts. Permits for new armoring shall not be denied for parcels with modified structures. Design considerations include but are not limited to the following:
8. Page 169, (l) Armoring Duration, replace, and add
(l) Armoring Duration. The shoreline or coastal bluff armoring shall only be authorized until the time when the existing structure that is protected by such a device 1) is no longer present; or 2) no longer requires armoring. Permittees shall be required to submit a coastal permit application to remove the authorized shoreline or coastal bluff armoring within six twelve months of a determination that the armoring is no longer authorized to protect the structure it was designed to protect because the structure is no longer present or no longer requires armoring.
If no substantial structural improvements, redevelopment, or reconstruction are required, permits for existing armoring devices shall be renewed according to provisions in the original permit. This excludes replacement or renovation due to fire, earthquake or other natural disasters.
7. Page 170, (n) emergency Authorization, add
(n) In cases of emergency, an emergency shoreline protective device may be approved on a temporary basis only, and only under the condition that the device is required to be removed unless a regular coastal development permit is approved for retention of the structure. In such cases, a complete coastal development permit application shall be required to be submitted within 60 180 days following construction of the temporary emergency shoreline protective device, unless an alternate deadline is authorized by the Planning Director for good cause and good faith efforts continue toward submittal of the application. Any such temporary emergency shoreline protective device shall be sited and designed to be the minimum necessary to abate the identified emergency, and to be as consistent as possible with all LCP shoreline protective device standards, including in terms of avoiding coastal resource impacts to the maximum feasible extent. The County will expedite the review and approval of applications for emergency permits.
8. Page 171, Removal Conditions/Development Duration, remove c)
(c) the development is no longer located on private property due to the migration of the public trust boundary;
9. Page 173, LCP e., delete phrase, as County as no authority to require coastal property owners to establish a contingency fund with reserves to pay for removal or relocation of structures in hazardous coastal areas.
Encourage property owners to create a contingency fund to cover future costs to modify, relocate and/or remove development that may become threatened in the future by sea level rise and/or when removal triggers are met.
Please note that the above requested changes do not necessarily represent a comprehensive list of needed modifications as many other concerns have been raised by the public.
If the County of Santa Cruz agrees to make changes consistent with the above, the Coastal Property Owner’s Association of Santa Cruz County will support the adaptation of the revised Local Coastal Plan.
Coastal Property Owners Association of Santa Cruz County