Report determines beach’s recreational value

Solana Beach recently released a draft report that considers the recreational value of the beach to calculate how much property owners should compensate the public for space that is lost when sea walls are constructed to protect private property.

Solana Beach started working on the fee study in 2008, determining fees to mitigate the impacts of sea walls on sand and recreational opportunities. While developing a Land Use Plan in 2010, the city agreed to use the California Coastal Commission’s recreation ology to charge a sand mitigation fee, which is approximately $25,000 per 50 feet of seawall.

With the sand mitigation fee no longer part of the study, Solana Beach released its draft public recreation impact fee study in 2010.

After Solana Beach adopted its Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan in 2013, the city received a $120,000 grant from the Coastal Commission to complete its fee study. All work must be completed by April 30.

About a dozen people attended a public workshop on Jan. 12 to receive information and provide input on the report. Consultants, who began updating the report in June 2014, outlined the study, which reviews comments submitted to the city in 2010, and includes Land Use Plan policies and updated data.

The report increased the beach area from 8.18 acres to 15.5, adjusted beach attendance and modified bluff erosion rates. Among other changes, the report also added the value of the junior lifeguard program and revised the annual surfer count to 66,800 — up from 26,700 in the 2010 fee study. Additionally, fee payment is now required within 20 years rather than 75 years.

To determine the recreational value of the beach, consultants considered four economic models. Ultimately, they used the time and travel cost method, which entailed attendance counts and random surveys of beachgoers within Solana Beach.

The report concluded the value of an adult visitor is $17.50 in the summer and $13.42 for all other times throughout the year, yielding an annual value of $2.34 million, or $3.99 per square foot for the 15.5 acres of beach that were considered in the report. The annual recreational value of the beach is increased to $2.7 million in 2015 dollars, up from $2.1 million in the 2010 fee study. The annual recreational value was $6.02 per square foot in the 2010 fee study.

Based on the those numbers, the report recommended the recreation impact fee be $870 per linear foot for sea walls permitted in 2016. The 2010 fee study recommended the fee be $3,011 per linear foot.

The amount increases each year until 2026, when the cost reaches $1,311 per linear foot. According to the consultants, the average sea wall in Solana Beach is 50 feet long, which would cost $43,500 in 2016 and $65,550 in 2026.

With no permanent fee in place, the city has assessed seawall projects by collecting sand mitigation fees using the Coastal Commission’s methodology and by collecting $1,000 per linear foot of sea wall as a deposit toward the public recreation impact fee.

The fee is required as part of a Local Coastal Program, which the city has actively worked on since 2000. A Local Coastal Program regulates development in the coastal zone and is required by the California Coastal Act of 1976 to ensure coastal areas are used and developed according to statewide public objectives.

Now that Solana Beach has an adopted Land Use Program, the city is finalizing its implementation plan. Once the plan is approved, the fully certified program will give the local government more control over coastal development.

The comment period for the draft report was extended from Jan. 19 to Jan. 22. Comments must be submitted by 5 p.m. and should be directed to Bill Chopyk, the city’s community development director. Comments can be hand-delivered, mailed or emailed to the city. The city had not received any comments as of the Jan. 12 workshop.

The final report will be presented to the council within the next few months. After council approval, it will be submitted to the Coastal Commission by April 29.