By Claire Harlin
In a rare clash, the Solana Beach City Council voted 3-2 to approve the construction of two return walls on the bluff of the Seascape Chateau Condominiums property, located at 707 S. Sierra Ave.
The decision was one of the first in which the city applied the terms of its new Land Use Plan (LUP), which took well over a decade to get certified by the California Coastal Commission.
Council members Lesa Heebner and Mike Nichols gave the dissenting votes, suggesting that there are more issues at play that were on the table, such as the need to repair more of the sea wall than what had been proposed. Nichols also said mitigation fees should be imposed.
It is possible that the applicant will take the project back to the Coastal Commission and not use the permits at all, even though they were approved.
Applicant spokesman Bob Trenton said what was once a $5,000 to $8,000 project turned into a project totaling at least $25,000 in permits alone when the city handed down a stop-work order to the applicant in 2010. The vocal order was made because the applicant attempted a minor repair — an 18-inch patch — under the direction of GeoSoils Inc. without permits.
When the applicant found out it had to obtain permits through both the California Coastal Commission and the city, it decided to increase the scope of the project and pursue maintenance that would provide a long-term repair instead of the original short-term repair. Essentially, the applicant was wanting to “swap” the projects, as Heebner described it. The applicant asked the council to waive permit fees in seeking new project approval, because $17,000 of the applicant’s money has already been spent on the current permit, which may not be used.
A representative from Seascape Chateau Condominium Association said there are currently four of 30 units for sale and one in foreclosure, and the association would not be able to afford mitigation fees or a major sea wall reconstruction.