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Land use plan up for public review

SOLANA BEACH — Hoping to submit an approved Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan to the California Coastal Commission before the end of the year, the city has released the revised document for a six-week public review. 

Most recently, at the Sept. 26 meeting, council voted 3-2 to continue work on the plan rather than adopt it as it was presented, reject it or adopt it with changes.

The Coastal Commission had made more than 150 recommended changes to a plan council adopted earlier this year.

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.

The city has submitted six drafts to the Coastal Commission since 2001.

The most problematic issue in Solana Beach’s efforts to obtain a certified LCP is sea walls.

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 Manager David Ott said the revised plan includes a request from bluff-top owners that would extend by a year or two the 20-year permit for a sea wall.

Under the new plan most bluff-top owners would also have an opportunity to remodel their homes or expand them when outside the geological setback line.

Chris Hamilton, chairman of the Beach & Bluff Conservancy representing bluff-top owners, described the changes as “very, very minor,” adding that they reflect changes driven by the Coastal Commission and not the residents or city.

He said his group still has concerns about a couple of items, including language on the 20-year permits, access issues affecting condominiums on the south end of the city and clarification of the geological setbacks.

“It would be impossible to get a 30-year loan with a 20-year permit,” Hamilton said. “There are also issues with insurance. What’s an insurance company going to do when you only have five years left on a permit?”

Hamilton said he his group will submit its concerns in writing.

The document is available at City Hall, 635. S. Coast Hwy. 101, or on the city website at

The public comment period will end at 1 p.m. on Nov. 26. Staff will then organize all comments received and present them to the council during a public meeting.

Ott said bluff-top owners have made a “strong request” for the current council “to make a decision on this.”

“We really want to make this work,” Councilman Mike Nichols said. “We want this to be our plan, the city of Solana Beach’s plan, and not the state of California’s plan.”


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