LCP available for public comment — again

SOLANA BEACH — Plans that would give Solana Beach more permitting authority over most new development are now available for a six-week public review. The city’s draft Local Coastal Program — its sixth in the past 10 years — will then be presented to City Council for approval at the end of June before it is submitted to the California Coastal Commission for what everyone hopes will be the last time.
An LCP is the basic planning tool used by cities to guide development in the coastal zone. It is required by the California Coastal Act of 1976 to ensure coastal areas are used and developed according to statewide public objectives. Each LCP contains ground rules for future development and protection of coastal resources. It includes a land-use plan and zoning ordinances to implement that plan.
Solana Beach is unique in that the entire city falls within the coastal zone. It is one of a handful of cities statewide — and the only one in San Diego County — without an approved LCP.
Solana Beach submitted draft LCPs in 2001 and every year between 2006 and 2009. The Coastal Commission requested and received additional information following the final submission and deemed the draft LCP complete in August 2010.
Since then city and CCC staff have met four times to discuss additional Coastal Commission comments and suggestions regarding the land-use plan. Another meeting is set for April 25.
Following those meetings, the city made a dozen policy changes. Several of those address sea walls and other bluff-retention devices, perhaps the most problematic issue in trying to get an approved LCP.
Bluff-top property owners say they should have the right to build the structures to protect their homes. Environmentalists say the shoreline protection devices prevent the natural creation of a beach and will eventually eliminate land that belongs to the public.
City and Coastal Commission staff have yet to agree on two other CCC recommendations. One would expand short-term rentals to include those less than seven days. The other would require a $30,000-per-hotel-room mitigation fee for low-cost overnight accommodations.
The city “does not agree that either of these two recommended changes will have an overall beneficial effect to the (c)ommunity,” the staff report states. “Conversely, both … could have unintended negative effects.”
The municipal code, which prohibits rentals of less than seven days in residential zones to protect the character of those neighborhoods, was developed in 2003 based on public outreach and community input. It requires a permit and subjects property owners who are in violation to steep fines.
Keeping the existing seven-day minimum “intact will not diminish the Coastal Act goal to maintain access to beach areas for the public” as the city has facilities close to the beach that are reasonably priced.
According to the staff report, the $30,000 fee could discourage new hotel development and remodeling.
The LCP will be available for public comment until June 8 on the city website at ci.solana-beach.ca.us.
The Coastal Commission must certify, certify with modifications or deny the LCP by Nov. 10. There are six scheduled meetings between now and then.

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