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California Coastal Commission approves Solana Beach seawall

Phil Diehl, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in News & Features

Another condition of approval is that the seawall must be removed before 20 years if any of the four homes is removed or significantly remodeled.

In addition to the $140,000 donation by Jokipii, the owners of all four blufftop houses will share the costs of a $54,631 public access mitigation fee to be paid to the city of Solana Beach, and a $10,272 sand mitigation fee to be deposited in an account determined by the Coastal Commission.

Coastal Commissioners have discussed the application six times in closed session since it was denied in September, said Anders Aannestad, an attorney for the applicants. A public update on the issue was scheduled for the commission's meeting in May, but was withdrawn on the morning of the meeting because of the pending settlement.

"The settlement is the right decision that upholds the Coastal Act," Aannestad said Thursday.

The applicants will pay a total of about $213,000 in fees, compared to about $60,000 that would have been due if the application had been approved in September, he said.

Jokipii submitted the original application that was denied two years ago, but was not listed on the application in September even though the commission's report said his property would benefit from the protection. Some of the commissioners said at the time that the property owner's absence from the application was disturbing.

One of the commissioners at the September meeting called the Jokipii house a "poster child" for managed retreat, a policy that suggests removing structures in danger of being claimed by the sea and letting nature take its course.

 

Recent measurements showed the most seaward portion of the house at 245 Pacific is just 22 feet from the edge of the cliff, the staff report states. The Coastal Commission requires a 40-foot setback from the bluff, and it specifies that structures be removed when they are 10 feet or less from the edge.

Natural erosion eats away San Diego County's coastal bluffs at an average rate of six inches annually, although episodic collapses can take several feet at once.

Surfrider representative Kristin Brinner, a Solana Beach resident, asked for additional conditions on the approval, including the removal of portions of the Pacific Avenue homes that are dangerously close to the edge of the bluff.

"This application is a real stinker, and we appreciate your efforts to reach a compromise," Brinner told the commission. "It demonstrates how neighbors can collude to negate the Coastal Act."

The fees charged to the applicant break down to about $28 a day over the life of the permit, which "grossly undervalues our beaches," she said.

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