Residents say they’ll appeal denial of seawall plan
Article Launched: 08/11/2004 12:00:00 AM PDT

Unhappy with last week’s Planning Commission decision to deny a $2 million, quarter-mile long seawall along the base of Depot Hill, the neighborhood association charged with paying for the project plans to file an appeal this week.

After a 1½-hour public hearing Thursday, the commission voted not to certify the environmental impact report and to deny a proposal for a 24-25 foot tall seawall that would have extended from Central to Livermore avenues.

If built, the wall would have protected homes and sewer lines for 75 years, according the Depot Hill Geological Hazard Abatement District, a city-formed agency that has been studying ways to limit erosion along the cliff since the mid-1990s.

Without the wall, the sewer lines would be lost in 10-15 years and oceanfront homes would be threatened in about 35 years, the district maintains.

Commissioners denied the project saying:

* The wall’s potential impact on the environment is unknown.
* It would end public access to the beach below Depot Hill to save privately owned homes, some worth roughly $1 million.
* Not all the property owners in the district want the seawall.
* Developing drainage improvements along the top of Depot Hill weren’t adequately studied.
* Building the wall would cover an area scientists worldwide revere for its fossils.

District members consider last week’s vote “especially disappointing,” saying they spent about $200,000 for a document city consultants crafted but was rejected by the commission.

“Shouldn’t we get a refund?” said John Hart, Depot Hill homeowner and member of the district.

Noting that the planning process is a risk and that nothing is guaranteed, city officials said no refunds are in order.

If an appeal is filed, city planning staff say the item could go to a City Council hearing as soon as Sept. 23.