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Issues Analysis for 2/23/04 CPOA Meeting

California Coastal Commision Periodic Review of Monterey County Local Coastal Program


Following is a description of the three discussion points that will be covered at this meeting:

  1. ESHA Recommended Policies (6:45 pm to 7:10 pm plus Q&A 10 minutes)

    Dave Potter will shed light on why the CCC feels these policies are important. Aengus Jeffers and Brian Finegan will reflect on it from a legal perspective. Vern Yadon will tackle it from a biologists view point as to implementation challenges as well as the practical impact – Will these policies help achieve the goal of protecting our natural resources or merely further punish the Big Sur Community?

  2. Critical Viewshed Recommended Policies (7:20 pm to 7:45 pm plus Q&A 10 minutes)

    Dave Potter will help us understand why the CCC feels these policies are important for protecting the viewshed. Aengus Jeffers and Brian Finegan will share with us the legal challenges these policies represent.

  3. The San Diego Experience (7:55 pm to 8:20 pm plus Q&A 10 minutes)

    Trip Bennett, an architect from San Diego, founder of San Diegoan's for Sensible Land Use will participate in the discussion and then provide his perspective on CCC policies and their recent unsettling impact in San Diego.

Below is a synopsis of Big Sur specific issues culled from the larger CCC staff reports. Please read this and come prepared to ask questions about those items that concern you most.


Issues List Extracted from the CCC Periodic Review Documents (1/03 Preliminary Analysis of Periodic Review Issues and Recommendations (PAPRIR) and 11/03 Periodic Review of the Monterey County Local Coastal Program (PRMCLCP)) for Monterey County


Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas (ESHA) broadly expanded

Probably the most wide reaching section of the proposal from the CCC staff is the ESHA policy recommendations. When read in its entirety, the proposed new ESHA policies could potentially result in a building moratorium in Big Sur. Policy recommendations would:

  • Expand the definition of ESHA such that it could potentially include most areas in Big Sur.
  • Prevent development on property that had historical, current and/or adjacent environmentally sensitive habitat areas. This recommendation is particularly insidious because it could, by definition encompass all of Big Sur. (Pages 52-56, 11/03 PRMCLCP)
  • Require any development proposed to have a 100-foot setback from any current ESHA area, historical or potential ESHA area located on the parcel or an adjacent parcel. (Page 55, 11/03 PRMCLCP)
  • Recommend further buyout of our community with the acquisition or retirement of these properties by selling the development rights to create an open space easement or transferring the development rights to another parcel. (Page 53, 11/03 PRMCLCP)
  • Recommend allowing the minimal development possible, in the event of an unconstitutional take, to provide an economically viable use of the property. What constitutes “minimal development” is not defined, although there are inferences that this may mean a less than 2,400 square foot home with no ancillary structures. (Page 53, 11/03 PRMCLCP )
  • Require restoration and protection of the remainder of the site with an “endowed conservation easement” to a third party that would allow management of the habitat in perpetuity, thereby creating a whole new business model for land trusts to further exploit the Big Sur community. (Page 54, 11/03 PRMCLCP)
  • Require an easement even if ESHA was not evident on a site. If a site has minimal or no ESHA, but is located in an area where there is ESHA (which is almost everywhere in Big Sur), as a condition of new development, an easement would be required for 21 years that allows for restoration and management of the habitat within the easement area, contingent on a restoration program being established within the area with the time period. (Page 55, 11/03 PRMCLCP)

Critical Viewshed Expanded and Double Standards Recommended

The staff of the CCC is recommending further tightening of already stringent critical viewshed policies as well as expansion of the viewshed definition so that property outside the critical viewshed would now be subject to development constraints. Additionally, recommended policies permit public agencies to do certain types of development in the critical viewshed that residents are prohibited from doing. Policy recommendations would:

  • Require that new development not be visible from public trails. (Page 11, 11/03 PRMCLCP)
  • Establish critical viewshed restrictions based on views from the ocean prior to development approval. (Page 30, 11/03 PRMCLCP)
  • Require air space protection easements in the critical veiwshed to prevent additional height of buildings that would conflict with view protection. (Page 175, 1/03 PAPRIR)
  • Require the dedication of a scenic easement prior to issuance of a permit in the critical viewshed. (Page 177, 1/03 PAPRIR)
  • Provide for a double standard for trail development along the highway by allowing berming, planting, boulder barriers, guardrail or other design measures as well as picnic tables, informational signs and displays, wooden benches, gates and fencing. (Page 46, 11/03 PRMCLCP)
  • Allow excavation, screening and berming of new parking and restroom facilities along Highway 1 at Soberanes Point, Garrapata Beach and any new State Park located on the west side of the highway. Promotes pedestrian underpasses and a maximum of 75 parking spaces per facility. (Page 77, 11/03 PRMCLCP)
  • Ask property owners within the viewshed to reduce the visibility of existing structures when submitting applications for additions or improvements. (Page 77, 11/03 PRMCLCP)
  • Expand the definition of residential improvements requiring Coastal Development Permits in the viewshed to include landscaping and renovations to existing structures. (Page 79, 11/03 PRMCLCP)
  • Encourage the County to remove existing development and prevent new development - “…the County should continue to prohibit new development in the viewshed and in the long-term, continue to remove or hide intrusive development.” (Page 10, 11/02 PRMCLCP)
  • Limit qualifying eligible existing residential oceanfront development for repair and maintenance as only principle residences and not accessory or ancillary structures such as garages, decks, eaves or landscaping. This would make it difficult or impossible for property owners to maintain and repair any non-qualifying part of their home in the event of coastal subsidence. (Page 157, 1/03 PAPRIR)

Required monetary contributions to Highway 1 improvements in Big Sur

Residential development would be required to pay a pro-rata share of Highway 1 improvements for the right to build. Single family residential would further trigger the need for a traffic analysis and potentially other fees. Policy recommendations would:

  • Require that new residential development “pay their fair-share” towards Highway 1 improvements to the Big Sur segment. (Page 47, 11/03 PRMCLCP)
  • Require a traffic analysis for residential development over 2,400 square feet based on the additional traffic generated by domestic employees (gardeners, cleaning personnel, etc.). (Page 45, 11/03 PRMCLCP)

Additional Permit fees to cover cost of staff recommended waterway-monitoring programs

In order to fund a study of the Big Sur River and Sycamore Canyon waterways, the CCC staff is proposing to assess new development to cover the cost of this study. Policy recommendations would:

  • Recommend assessing $12,600 per Big Sur development permit to help fund the CCC requested monitoring program. (Page 39, 11/03 PRMCLCP)

Road maintenance recommendations would target property for retirement and/or buyout

Proposals recommend the buyout of property and retiring of roads that are deemed to impact streams that currently host or historically hosted anadromous fish. Policy recommendations would:

  • Establish a fund for purchase of property or easements for cases in which implementing riparian buffers for anadromous fish makes parcels unbuildable, even though there is not enough scientific evidence that current BMP's work. (Page 83, 1/03 PAPRIR)
  • Identify unsuitable existing development, infrastructure and roads affecting anadromous fish streams and gradually mitigate their adverse impact including eliminating unmitagatable impediments. This could result in road closure. (Page 84, 1/03 PAPRIR)

Promoting Punitive Approach as way to fund additional CCC staff policies

The CCC staff proposes to fund its recommended initiatives by increasing enforcement and raising fines. Policy recommendations include:

  • More aggressive enforcement and fining of residents to help cover additional costs generated by staff's recommendation. (Page 24, 11/03 PRMCLCP)
  • Increase in enforcement of LCP viewshed protections and requirement of greater penalties to generate funds for a coastal viewshed restoration fund. (Page 78, 11/03 PRMCLCP)

Making Coast Highway Management Plan (CHMP) compliance mandatory (Page 41, 11/03 PRMCLCP)

The authors of the CHMP all agreed that the CHMP should be a recommendation for all parties involved, not a regulatory document. However, the CCC staff is recommending the County include CHMP content in the GPU as policy. Policy recommendations would:

  • Require all projects within the highway corridor to comply with CHMP management strategies and guidelines even though it was agreed by the authors of the CHMP that this document would not be a regulatory document. (Page 41, PRMCLCP)
  • Impact a very broad area of Big Sur. The highway corridor, by definition in the CHMP, is very broad and as a result, would impact most projects in Big Sur. Following is Caltrans's definition of the highway corridor: “The "width" boundaries correspond with watershed boundaries, including the portion of the Monterey Bay Nat'l Marine Sanctuary within the north/south limit (Carmel/San Carpoforo Creek).  This delimitation is consistent with the north/south boundary determination which was based on geographic, rather than political, features.”
  • Require that the county review the CHMP for possible incorporation into the LCP. (Page 48, 11/03 PRMCLCP)


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