By Claire Harlin
The City of Solana Beach worked for more than a decade in drafting a long-term land-use plan to steer development in the city, and in March the California Coastal Commission approved the plan. But some residents aren’t keen on the state entity’s hefty list of modifications made to the plan that the Solana Beach City Council and community once agreed upon in 2008, and they are asking the City Council to bring the issue up in a meeting as soon as possible.
“The will of the community was subverted when the Coastal Commission staff stealthily, very sneakily really, introduced an alternative plan that gutted our collective effort and substituted the priorities of the commission for those of our own citizens,” said Solana Beach resident Diane Garber. “The community wasn’t given a chance or notice to process this bait and switch tactic the Coastal Commission used. We had all of 10 days to address 110 significant changes … Many of us were unaware of the overhaul and assumed it was our plan that was approved.”
Residents are saying new seawall restrictions in the Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan (LUP) will harm property value. Solana Beach has a large stretch of bluff with numerous homes on Pacific Avenue perched atop that bluff. Many have seawalls, which stabilize homes by stopping natural erosion.
Residents are saying the state views blufftop homes as expendable because it modified the LUP to not insure renewal of seawall permits.
Local realtor Doug Harwood said in his job he faces the challenge of providing disclosures to both buyers and sellers of blufftop homes that seawall permits will not last longer than 20 years, if at all.
“What bank is going to issue a home mortgage for 30 years when, at most, a seawall is going to be in place for as few 18 years?” he said, adding that the LUP also tightens restrictions on remodeling.
Resident Chris Hamilton said the LUP is a “huge hit on the tax base.”
“This plan as it’s written is disastrous,” he said.
Hamilton said the beaches before seawalls were not very safe, and without the walls, homes may be lost and the city would then be responsible for the infrastructure.
“Erosion continues to occur on the bluff,” he said. “I’m aware of some caves that have already approached the street because they are so deep.”
These concerned residents came forward during the oral communications portion of the June 13 Solana Beach City Council meeting.
The LUP must still go to the Solana Beach City Council for final approval, and then the city will develop a Local Implementation Policy, which city manager David Ott said could take 12 to 18 months.