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The California Coastal Coalition (CalCoast)  is a non-profit advocacy group comprised of 35 coastal cities; five counties; SANDAG, BEACON and SCAG; private sector partners and NGOs, committed to protecting and restoring California's coastline through beach sand restoration, increasing the flow of natural sediment to the coast, wetlands recovery, improved water quality, watershed management and the reduction of marine debris and plastic pollution.

CalCoast has sponsored or supported legislation, budget requests and bond measures (Propositions 12, 13, 40, 50 and 84) that have raised billions of dollars in state and federal funding for beaches, wetlands, clean water and parks. In 1999, we sponsored the California Public Beach Restoration Act (AB 64-Ducheny), which created the state’s first fund for beach nourishment projects.
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Editor's Notes - May 20, 2016

by Steve Aceti on 05/20/16

Unintended Consequences - Who Really Benefits if Ex Parte Communications with the CCC Are Banned?

Last week that the Coastal Commission (CCC) voted by a narrow margin (6-5) to support SB 1190 (Jackson), which would bar commissioners from having private meetings?and/or discussions ?—??called ex parte communications??—??with those who have business before the state agency’s 12-member appointed commission. SB 1190 is expected to pass in the Senate next week.  As posted below under coastal news, The Los Angeles Times has endorsed SB 1190, opining that “Ex parte communications are inherently unfair because … lobbyists with the time and money to travel up and down the state to meet with commissioners who reap the advantages of this special relationship.” But do CCC “lobbyists” really have more sway over the CCC than NGOs and the public? Attend a CCC meeting or watch it online. In most cases, for every applicant there are dozens of NGOs and project opponents who speak against projects they don’t like – wherever along the coast the CCC is meeting. NGOs and the public hold demonstrations and press conferences outside of CCC meetings to make their points. They convinced editorial boards up and down the state that the firing of the CCC’s ED in February was a power play by developers and lobbyists (even though commissioners, including the chairman, said that claim was unfounded) and NGOs that routinely participate in CCC meetings helped draft the CCC’s RFP for a search firm to hire an executive director. In addition, NGOs have demanded – successfully - that they be involved in the ED selection process and there is an NGO website that posts “report cards,” grading each commissioner after each CCC meeting according to how she/he voted on projects. So who really holds the most power over the CCC? We’re a coastal NGO, and we’re not criticizing other coastal NGOs for being active in CCC affairs, but as SB 1190 makes its way through the Legislature, we think it’s time to have an honest conversation about who really holds power over the CCC and whether SB 1190 levels the playing field or tips it toward groups and persons who routinely oppose projects before the CCC.

Could CCC Decisions Be Overturned Due to Ethical Violations and Unreported Ex Parte Communications?

The CCC has been in the news almost daily since it met last week and we have posted a number of articles under our coastal section below. Some of the articles report on ethics probes against four commissioners and others discuss unfiled ex parte communications. Intrigue surrounding the CCC could result in some decisions being overturned or at least appealed. Chairman Kinsey said this week that he will not participate in the Banning Ranch deliberations this summer for failing to file forms for two ex parte communications (including a site visit and memo that resulted in staff changing its recommendation against the project), but, regardless of the outcome, the prevailing party can expect a challenge due to the background of the case.  

Editor's Notes - May 13, 2016

by Steve Aceti on 05/13/16

CCC Ex Parte Legislation and Violations

Last week we discussed five bills related to the workings of the Coastal Commission. One of the bills, SB 1190 (Jackson), has passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee and, as of this writing, it looks like the bill will pass on the Senate Floor in a few days. SB 1190 would ban ex parte communications with coastal commissioners and it would amend the Coastal Act to ensure that commissioners or alternates do not attempt to influence, change, or alter a staff report, analysis, or recommendation prior to the time the staff report is made public at a hearing or other official proceeding. Amendments in the Senate Appropriations Committee narrowed the prohibition on ex parte communications to adjudicative and enforcement matters, and exempts legislative and policy determinations made by the commission.
Read a list of supporters and opponents, as well as the most recent staff analysis of the bill, here.

During its meeting this week in Newport Beach, the Coastal Commission voted to support SB 1190 and three commissioners, Carole Groom, Mary Luevano and Wendy Mitchell, have decided not to participate in ex-parte communications with third parties, at least until the Legislature takes action on SB 1190. With this background, it was ironic to read this week that Chairman Steve Kinsey (Marin County Supervisor) failed to report two ex parte communications with reps of the proposed Banning Ranch multi-use project in Newport Beach (see articles below). Mr. Kinsey has asked the CCC's attorney to determine whether he should recuse himself from voting on the Banning Ranch project. Violations of the disclosure requirements carry fines of as much as $7,500, and commission decisions affected by a violation can be revoked. Banning Ranch has been a target for some NGOs so litigation should be expected after the CCC acts on the application for a CDP.
Selection of New CCC Executive Director
It is well-known that the CCC needs to hire a new executive director. Staff reported this morning that they expect to issue an RFP for an executive search firm in July. Staff expects to enter into a contract with a search firm in August, but an ED will probably not be hired until early 2017. A copy of the staff report on this issue and an addendum to the report are available here. NGOs have urged the CCC to allow public participation in the selection process (see communications in the addendum). E-mail correspondence concerning this issue may be sent to EDSelectionComments@coastal.ca.gov.   
Two Controversial Projects to be Considered in September
At the urging of Banning Ranch, consideration of its proposed project  will be heard in September. E-mail correspondence concerning this project may be sent to BanningRanchComments@coastal.ca.gov. Poseidon Water's proposal to build a desalination project in Huntington Beach will also be heard this September. At the urging of NGOs and the public, the CCC decided yesterday to hear both projects in Newport Beach.
The next meetings of the Coastal Commission are June 8-10, in Santa Barbara and July 13-15, in San Diego.

Editor's Notes - May 5, 2016

by Steve Aceti on 05/04/16

It's the time of year when bills that have passed out of policy committees have been placed on the "suspense calendar" in the fiscal committee in the house of origin. The last day for fiscal committees to hear and report to the Floor bills introduced in their house is May 27. We have selected pending bills related to the Coastal Commission for review in today's issue of the WAVE. We will keep everyone updated on the status of these bills and other bills that affect coastal communities.  
SB 1190 (Jackson) This bill would ban ex parte communications with coastal commissioners. It would also amend the Coastal Act to ensure that commissioners or alternates do not attempt to influence, change, or alter a staff report, analysis, or recommendation prior to the time the staff report is made public at a hearing or other official proceeding. Violations of this provision would be subject to a fine of $1000 or imprisonment and a violator would be disqualified forever from holding any office in California. Read a list of supporters (there are no stated opponents), as well as the most recent staff analysis of the bill here.(Currently in Senate Appropriations)
AB 2002 (Stone) provides that communicating with the Coastal Commission in order to influence specified actions can result in a person being considered a "lobbyist" under the Political Reform Act (PRA). Also, the bill prohibits an ex parte communication with a member of the commission regarding a matter during the 24 hours before that matter will be discussed at a commission hearing. Read a list of supporters and opponents, as well as the most recent staff analysis of the bill here.(Currently in Assembly Appropriations)
AB 2185 (Gonzalez) requires the State Coastal Conservancy to assist the Coastal Commission in developing a program to provide loans or grants to meet the operation and maintenance needs of private low-cost coastal accommodations. Millions of dollars in "in lieu" fees remain un-spent. AB 694 (Rendon, 2015) was almost identical to this bill and died in Assembly Appropriations. Read a list of supporters (there are no stated opponents), as well as a staff analysis of the bill here.(Currently in Assembly Appropriations)  
AB 2616 (Burke) increases Coastal Commission membership by three members who are required to work directly with communities in the state that are most burdened by, and  vulnerable to, high levels of pollution and issues of environmental justice. Allows the commission to address affordable housing and environmental justice concerns. Read a list of supporters (there are no stated opponents), as well as a staff analysis of the bill here. (Currently in Assembly Appropriations)
AB 2658 (Maienschein) requires Coastal Commission staff to disclose in their staff reports any communication on a matter before the commission between the staff member acting in his or her official capacity and an interested person. The bill also requires video or audio recordings of all hearings, workshops, or other proceedings to be posted on the commission's internet website within 72 hours of the proceeding, as well as written and electronic communications submitted to the commission as part of a proceeding to be posted on the commission's website with seven days of receipt. Read a list of opponents (there are no stated supporters), as well as the most recent staff analysis of the bill here. (Currently in Assembly Appropriations but not likely to pass out of that committee)  
For more information about these bills, including bill status and staff analyses, log onto www.leginfo.ca.gov, click on "Bill Information," and enter the bill number in the "Search" window. We will keep everyone updated on the status of these bills and other bills that affect coastal communities.

Editor's Notes - April 29, 2016

by Steve Aceti on 04/28/16

Congratulations to CalCoast members Encinitas and Solana Beach for reaching an important milestone in a the process to restore its beaches in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and State Parks' Division of Boating & Waterways.

Tuesday (April 26, 2016), the USACE submitted to Congress a "Chief's Report," which is necessary for the projects to be funded and constructed beyond engineering and design. Congress authorized studies of the Encinitas project in 1993 and the Solana Beach project in 1999 and the studies were funded in the Energy and Water  Development  Appropriations Act (WRDA) of 2000.

The Encinitas project includes the construction of a 50-foot-wide beach along a 7,800-foot-long stretch of shoreline using 340,000 c.y. of sand, with renourishment every five years with approximately 220,000 c.y. of sand over a 50-year period. for a total of nine additional projects.

The Solana Beach project includes construction of a 150-foot-wide beach along a 7,200-foot-long stretch of shoreline using 700,000 c.y. of sand, with renourishment 10 years, with approximately 290,000 cubic yards of sand over a 50-year period for a total of four additional projects. nourishments.

Material for the projects will be dredged from a borrow site identified off the coast of San Diego County. Physical monitoring of the performance of the project will be required annually throughout the 50-year period of federal participation.

The projects will provide coastal storm damage reduction and maintain existing recreational beaches in the two cities. Next up: obtaining construction funds from Congress - hopefully in WRDA 2016 - a version of which was passed by the U.S. Senate this week.  
Highlights from the articles and information below:

  • Revealed: inside the tug-of-war to run Donald Trump's California campaign
  • How El Nino sidestepped Southern California
  • 2 San Diego-area water projects win international recognition
  • Coastal Commission steps into Mission Beach battle
  • The most influential person on the coastal commission may be this lobbyist
  • The Latest: Dead whale being cut up on California beach
  • Santa Clara County looks at bond measure for affordable housing
  • New sea level rise study calls Delta Tunnels into doubt
  • Stillwater Sciences opens new Los Angeles Office
  • CASQA's 2016 Annual Conference

Editor's Notes - April 22, 2016

by Steve Aceti on 04/22/16

Coastal Commission in the News
This week's WAVE includes almost a dozen articles involving the California Coastal Commission. For example, the city of Solana Beach has sent the CCC a proposal for charging a new fee for the construction seawalls. SeaWorld San Diego's parent company announced this week that it would drop a lawsuit against the CCC over SeaWorld's attempt to expand its orca tanks. The suit is no longer warranted because SeaWorld has decided it will not breed orca whales and that orca entertainment shows will be phased out over the next few years.

The most controversial article is about a lawsuit the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), a property rights non-profit law firm, has brought on behalf of a San Clemente homeowner who is challenging a coastal development permit condition that prevents him from repairing a seawall that existed before he replaced a beachfront mobile home with a new one. The condition is often included in CDPs issued for beachfront or bluff top development up and down the coast, but PLF argues that, among other things, the permit condition violates Coastal Act section 30235, which gives its client and other oceanfront property owners the right to safeguard their property with a seawall or other protective device when required to "protect property from erosion and storms". Click here for more information about the lawsuit, including a copy of the petition and supporting documentation.
Highlights from Articles and Information Posted Below:  
  • California water agencies to urge regulators to ease drought restrictions
  • Extreme and exceptional drought decline in California    
  • Congressman Rohrabacher now sees foe in longtime friend Scott Baugh
  • Op-Ed: Is the California drought America's water wake-up call? 
  • Marin OKs coastal program amid disagreement with state staff
  • Measure X passes but hotel still faces hurdles
  • West Coast fisheries are at risk as climate change disturbs the ocean's chemistry
  • Online System Launched to Help Californians Report Environmental Problems

California is in a drought emergency. Visit www.SaveOurH2O.org for water conservation tips.