Controlling our destiny while protecting our environment


By David W. Roberts

Solana Beach Mayor

My alarm clock went off at 4:30 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 13, signaling the start of a very busy day for Solana Beach. Councilmember Tom Campbell, City Manager David Ott, Community Development Director Tina Christenson, consultant Leslea Meyerhoff and I all met at 5:15 a.m. at City Hall to carpool to Long Beach for an extremely important 8 a.m. meeting of the California Coastal Commission.

After four-plus long years of work on a draft Local Coastal Plan, we were going to ask the Coastal Commission to overturn their staff’s recommendation to deny our plan and to seek more time to find consensus. All of us participated in the 15-minute presentation and I am pleased to report that the California Coastal Commission disregarded a staff recommendation to deny approval of Solana Beach’s Local Coastal Program and instead voted unanimously to grant a continuance, giving the city until Sept. 20, 2009, to submit a revised plan.

This decision was welcome news for the city, as well as representatives from Surfrider Foundation, Sierra Club, CalBeach Advocates and the bluff-top property owners who all have worked collaboratively for more than a decade to create this compromise document.

I was quoted in one local newspaper saying: “To us it was a home run! We’re just thrilled that we got that (staff denial) turned around. We see it as a great victory for our city. Now we’ve got more of a sense of things we need to work on.”

However, I need to emphasize though that not everything is rosy. After more than seven years and spending more than $1.5 million, the city still does not have a sense as to whether the Coastal Commission will support our creative 75-year compromise that our Citizens Committee lead by former Mayor Doug Sheres has created and the Council has united around. It was especially concerning to me personally after spending so many long hours on this project to hear the commission’s staff report describe our creative solution as “problematic,” “misleading” and “counter to the more conservative resource protection mandates of the Coastal Act.” I told the Coastal Commissioners themselves in my closing rebuttal to the staff report: “With all due respect, the staff report I heard this morning has many inaccuracies. We believe our compromise proposal not only meets, but exceeds, the Coastal Act.”

In addition to my city colleagues, it was gratifying to see several friends from our community at the commission meeting, including Jim Jaffee, Mark Massara, Todd Cardiff, and David Winkler all standing with us united to support our creative compromise plan.

One other highlight that was overshadowed by our denial reversal was when the Coastal Commission approved our five-year permit to allow surplus sand taken from inland construction, development and dredging projects to be placed at or south of Fletcher Cove Beach. Under the program, roughly 150,000 cubic yards of sand that meets certain criteria could be used for beach sand replenishment over a five-year period. Sand nourishment and replenishment is so important to keep a healthy beach due to the damage caused by so many factors outside our control. Our sister cities of Encinitas and Oceanside have similar so-called opportunistic sand replenishment programs going before the Coastal Commission, but Solana Beach was the first city in San Diego County to get their permit approved!

If you would like to contact me directly with your opinion about this or any other issues in our community, please just drop me a line at