Workshop puts cost on sea walls

SOLANA BEACH — About a dozen people were on hand for an informational workshop held on Jan. 12 to discuss a draft report that determines the recreational value of the beach to calculate how much property owners should compensate the public for beach that is lost when they build sea walls to protect their property.

A draft study fee was released in 2010. After Solana Beach adopted its Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan in 2013 the city received a $120,000 grant from the California Coastal Commission to update the document.  All work must be completed by April 30.

Consultants who revised the study spent about 30 minutes of the one-hour workshop highlighting the changes, which include increasing the beach area from 8 acres to 15.5, adjusting beach attendance numbers to include surfers, adding the value of the junior lifeguard program, modifying bluff erosion rates and requiring payment of the fee within 20 years rather than 75.

Attorneys representing bluff top property owners had a few questions about the methodology that was used, and there was a request for some additional information from one resident.

Otherwise, residents had few questions about the report, which is available for public review until Jan. 22, three days later than originally scheduled.

People watching the televised workshop could also send questions via email to Bill Chopyk, the city’s community development director, but none were submitted.

To determine the recreational value of the beach at various locations, consultants conducted random surveys of beach attendees within Solana Beach and performed attendance counts from July 2008 through July 2009.

Economic modeling concluded the value of an adult visitor was $17.50 in the summer and $13.42 all other times, yielding an annual value of $2.34 million, or $3.99 per square foot, for the 15.5 acres of beach that were considered.

Based on those numbers the land lease recreational impact mitigation fee, as it is called, was calculated to be $846 per linear foot for sea walls permitted in 2015. The amount increases each year until 2026, when the cost is $1,311 per linear foot.

Sea walls in Solana Beach are typically about 50 feet long, meaning a bluff top property owner with a retention device permitted last year would be required to pay $42,300.

The same owner will have to pay $65,550 in 2026.

The city had been collecting a fee deposit of $1,000 per linear foot for the public recreation fee and assessed a sand mitigation fee.

The fee is part of the LUP the city adopted after more than a decade of work. Sea walls and other bluff-retention devices were the most controversial part of developing the document, which is the basic planning tool used by a city to guide development in its 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. Solana Beach is unique in that the entire city is considered coastal zone.

Once the implementation plan for the LUP is approved, the city will have a fully certified LCP and coastal development permit authority.

As of Jan. 12 no comments had been received. They must be submitted in writing via email, the postal service or personal delivery to City Hall or

The final document will be presented to council for approval within the next few months before being submitted to the California Coastal Commission by April 29.


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