Solana Beach moving forward with seawall mitigation study

After a four-year delay, Solana Beach is moving forward with a study that will determine how much private property owners have to compensate the public for lost sand and recreational opportunities because of the construction of a seawall.

“The seawalls are in place, but the mitigation is not in place,” said Jim Jaffee, of the Surfrider Foundation during the first community meeting for the mitigation fee study update project Sept. 23 at City Hall.

He noted that he and others of the city’s citizens committee initially proclaimed the study would be completed in 2006.

“It’s kind of a travesty that it’s taken us 10 years to get this far.”

In 2008, Solana Beach launched a study to establish mitigation fees for seawalls by evaluating the potential impacts on sand supply and loss of recreational use of the public beach.

The draft fee study was made available to the public in April 2010 for review and comments. A corrected draft was issued in July 2010 and the public comment period closed in October 2010.

The 2010 draft fee study recommended a land lease and recreation fee. The report concluded that the appropriate fee was $3,100 per linear foot. Applicants could pay one-third of the cost up front, with the remaining balance due by 2081.

The 2010 report is still available and on the city’s website, but it remains a draft. The report was never finalized and put on hold for the last four years while the city worked to finalize its Land Use Plan, which was adopted by the Solana Beach City Council and California Coastal Commission in February 2013.

In the interim, the city has assessed land lease and recreation fees at $1,000 per linear foot.

At the start of 2014, Solana Beach received a $120,000 grant from the California Coastal Commission so the city could update its 2010 study.

Initiated in June, the study update process will incorporate and reflect certified LUP policies, as well as review and address public comments on the 2010 report.

Public review should begin in March 2015, followed by a second public meeting in April. The council is expected to hear the report next September. The report will be submitted to the California Coastal Commission after the council adopts it. The update process is expected to be completed by April 2016.

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