Last Friday, June 27th, staff of the California Coastal Commission submitted 43 recommendations involving the Ocean Beach Community Plan to the City for its considerations. This 11th-hour submittal of modifications has now delayed the review and potential approval of OB’s Plan by the City Council. This past Monday, the Council moved their hearing to July 29th.
The Council felt that City staff, both from the planning department and the City Attorney’s Office, needed to review and respond to the recommendations.
If staff found a recommendation that is “material” – that is a substantial change – to the Plan, then the potential exists for even more delays, as the Plan then would have to go back before the Planning Commission.
And at tonight’s OB Planning Board meeting, the Board will decide just how and when it will also respond to the Coastal Commission’s suggested changes.
Many of the OBceans who spoke at the brief City Council meeting on Monday stated that they saw no problems with the recommendations. Hopefully, every one can agree on this – everyone, the City Attorney’s Office, the City planners, the Council.
Many of the modifications are common sensical, and enunciate ideas implied by other language of the Plan. And as it is the Coastal Commission’s job to protect our coast, many of the recommendations have to do with more protections for sensitive habitat, open space, and bluffs, etc. Plus, many begin with “encourage” or “consider” such and such – language that anyone can live with.
So, in order to help facilitate the community’s read of the recommendations and to further obtain a grasp of the essence of the modifications, I sat down yesterday and compared the recommendations, one by one, to the language in the existing Plan, and here now present a break-down of the modifications.
Break-Down of Coastal Commission Recommendations to OB Community Plan
Before I go through them individually, let’s look at them as a whole.
- 15 of the recommendations are improvements to or strengthens the language surrounding coastal bluffs, coastal habitat areas, flood plains, open space, parks and shoreline.
- 8 are other ecological or environmental-friendly suggestions, such as “consider” upper-floor decks and outside patios to help keep views.
- 5 have to do with sea level rise and climate change considerations. (Don’t forget this plan is the blueprint for OB for the next 20 to 30 years, and there is some rise expected during that time.)
- 4 are map modifications, such as adding Sunset Cliffs Blvd.
- 3 preserve or strengthen language having to do with public access to the shoreline.
- 2 encourage and prioritize “low-cost visitor serving recreational facilities”.
- 2 encourages mixed-use development in commercial areas.
- 2 have to do with parking preferentials for public and residential parking;
- One of the recommendations states that property owners “shall assume risks associated with new development in hazardous areas”. That means no one can build a house or complex on the bluffs and then a few years down the road demand that the City place cliff armor for their own protection.
- Another one has to do with historic review of any demolition or rehab of buildings older than 45 years.
Here, one-by-one, is a more complete – but brief – breakdown of the 43 Coastal recommendations:
#1. Map modification regarding Sunset Cliffs Blvd.
#2. Adds a goal to land use goals re: prioritizing “low-cost visitor serving recreational facilities” and marine development.
#3. Encourages mixed-use development in commercial “prime visitor-serving areas”
#4. Requires setbacks and buffers to new development when adjacent to coastal habitat, open space and park land.
#5. Any preferential residential parking program requires an amended land use plan.
#6. Ensure adequate off street parking for all development.
#7. Minimize and evaluate night lighting along the shoreline and adjacent to sensitive habitat areas.
#8. Encourage use of new design of windows to ensure bird safety.
#9. Avoid plastic netting in temporary rolled erosion-control products (cites alternatives).
#10. Same as #3 – different part of Plan.
#11. Consider use of upper-story sun decks or patios to maintain views.
#12. Strengthen language re: capture of pollutants and urban-run-off.
#13. Preserve and protect “low-cost visitor serving recreational facilities” and over-night accommodations; calls for mitigation required for any loss of such.
#14. Map modification to show wetlands and open space areas.
#15. Improve informal trail along east side of Famosa Slough and develop bike path to connect with OB Park.
#16. Preserve, etc., public access to shoreline; mitigation required for any loss; “maximize retention of existing public on-street parking for protection of the public beach parking reservoir.”
#17. Re-vegetation of open space with native plants, drought-resistant, etc.
#18. More re-vegging with native plants to lands adjacent to San Diego River.
#19. Prepare for sea level rise and climate changes by: avoiding bluff development in hazardous areas; proper sitting of new development to avoid need for future shoreline protection devices; utilize best science available on sea level rise impacts.
#20. Adds language to increase distance between bluff face and development envelop, to prevent need for shoreline armoring; also sea walls are discouraged.
#21. Map modification to show areas of sensitive coastal bluffs and buffers.
#22. Strengthens language protecting coastal bluffs.
#23. Strengthens language for public access to shoreline and recreational areas.
#24. Has to do with fixing public access affected and at risk by rise of sea level.
#25. Incorporate sea level rise into beach management strategies.
#26. Adds language that says bluff erosion will accelerate with sea level rise.
#27. Has to do with setbacks from coastal bluffs for development / redevelopment; strengthens protection of the cliffs.
#28. Adds language to shoreline protective “devices”; devices to be removed if building demolished.
#29. Requires a waiver of rights to future shoreline protection for any new shoreline development or redevelopment. New development SHALL not rely on existing or future shoreline devices.
#30. Adds language to removal of shoreline devices if development or building is demolished.
#31. Strengthens language to protect against potential hazardous development.
#32. Has to do with allowing new construction within floodplain areas.
#33. Maximize open space and native landscaping to promote runoff infiltration and reduce runoff pollution.
#34. Install recycle bins on sidewalks in high-use areas.
#35. Encourage all new development / redevelopment to pursue LEED certification standards.
#36. Encourage use of native, drought-tolerant landscaping to reduce water usage.
#37. Project developers shall use best science and site-specific geotechnical reports regarding impacts due to sea level rise; reiterates that new development cannot rely on shoreline devices.
#38. Develop incentive program to relocate existing development at risk from bluff erosion.
#39. Property owners SHALL assume risks associated with new development in hazardous areas and shall waive all right to future devices.
#40. Identify feasible locations where homes could be removed due to hazards from sea level rise; convert impacted property to open space.
#41. All new development or improvements to existing structures 45 years or older shall go through the City’s Historic Review Process.
#42. Map modification – same as #1.
#43. Add figure to show current and projected hazardous areas, identify current bluff erosion and projected future erosion rate. –