The Coast News Group
Community Commentary

Prop A and the Coastal Commission

I would like to comment on the statements by the attorneys for Rutan and the city that, “the Initiative would not take effect unless and until it is unconditionally certified by the Coastal Commission.” 

This statement is incorrect. The Commission does not, has not and never will certify any initiative because it does not have the legal authority to do so.

The Commission’s authority is to certify any Local Coastal Program amendments that may arise from the initiative for their conformity to the Coastal Act. These are not the same things.

The certification of an LCP amendment is no different for this than for any changes to the General Plan or Specific Plan that is not consistent with the existing LCP. Such amendments would have to be initiated by the city, not by the Commission. The city would only be required to process an LCP amendment if a zoning change approved by the voters required one.

In this instance most of the proposition is about process, so only if the city were to approve an up-zoning and the voters approved that up-zoning would it trigger the need for an LCP amendment. Nothing in this proposition would result in a delay in implementation and the fear that the decrease in height would do so is also unfounded. The language of the current Specific Plans is permissive. They state: “Maximum height allowed” or “may go to.” Thus a decrease in the height allowed should not trigger the need for a Specific Plan amendment and would not delay implementation. The recent Cardiff Specific Plan issue is not comparable. There was no initiative involved. In this case, the proposition does not trigger the need for any Specific Plan amendments unless the public votes to make changes to the zoning.

Sara Wan is considered to be a leading expert in the area of the application of the Coastal Act and court decisions affecting its implementation, and Coastal Commission regulations, procedures and permit history. After leaving the Commission she founded Coastal Land Use Consultants, LLC. CLUC specializes in assisting those with issues of concern at State regulatory agencies, including the Coastal Commission; State Lands Commission and Water Boards.