Coastal Commission likely to deny request; city plans to regroup
Solana Beach's innovative plan to manage development along the beach and bluffs continues to move forward, but more slowly than anticipated due to ongoing resistance from the California Coastal Commission.
Facing likely denial of the proposed Local Coastal Plan and Land Use Plan from the Coastal Commission, the Solana Beach City Council voted unanimously to withdraw the plan from the state agency June 10.
"I don't think we have a choice," Deputy Mayor Tom Campbell said. "It's disappointing we're not at point in time we can submit this."
Commission staff requested the city withdraw its plan, which resets the clock for reviewing it.
"Commission staff have made review of the City's LUP a priority and have consistently and repeatedly identified specific areas of concern where we believe the LUP is incomplete or inconsistent with Coastal Act requirements," wrote Sherilyn Sarb, deputy director of the commission in a May letter to the city.
The coastal commission would have otherwise been required to act by September on the current plan, which the city submitted last June.
"Coastal staff made it pretty clear they don't expect to calendar this item or recommend approval at this time," said Leslea Meyerhoff, the city's coastal consultant.
While it is a delay, city staff and citizens committee members said they also wanted more time to work on the revised plan and address concerns raised by the commission staff.
The key is to not upset the plan's compromise between bluff top property owners and environmentalists that allows seawalls and other bluff retention devices until 2081, at which point the walls will come down.
Representatives from both sides said they were hopeful they could maintain their agreement and still get the commissioners' approval.
"There's a tremendous amount of momentum behind it because we have five years behind it," said David Winkler, a committee member representing property owners.
Solana Beach is one of a handful of California cities without an approved coastal management plan. Several attempts to develop one in the past decade one had failed, with the most recent effort coming the closest to completion.
City officials said they want to keep that momentum going and plan to have the documents ready to resubmit to the commission by September. It would first come to the city council for public review.
In the meantime, the city will continue working on implementing elements of the plan in anticipation of approval, including fee studies and overlay zones, city staff said.
"It's important to keep moving forward on those expeditiously," said Jim Jaffee, a member of the citizen's committee representing environmentalists.
Deputy Mayor Campbell supported the aggressive timeline to resubmit the plan, but was skeptical of its chances for approval.
"My personally feeling is the coastal commission is never going to accept what we think is right for this community," Campbell said. "I don't want to keep spending money on all these side studies if we don't get this approved."