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Sea wall fee action delayed

SOLANA BEACH — The next decision on a fee that will be paid by bluff-top property owners to compensate the public for beach that is lost by sea walls built to protect their homes has been delayed for up to a year.

The California Coastal Commission at its July 13 meeting agreed to extend by a maximum of 12 months its requirement to act on a draft public recreation impact fee study submitted by the city April 29, one day before a deadline mandated by a commission grant used to conduct the study.

The document is an amendment to Solana Beach’s Local Coastal Program and involves changes and additions to its Land Use Plan, adopted in 2013 after more than a decade of work.

The fee is a Coastal Commission requirement. It will be determined on a case-by-case scenario and ranges from $431 to $939 per linear foot for sea walls permitted this year.

The price per foot will increase annually. Most bluff retention devices in Solana Beach are about 50 feet long.

The commission was required to act on the draft within 90 days of the submittal date.

“Given the complexity and statewide significance of this beach recreation valuation effort, additional time is necessary to prepare a thorough analysis … adequately review the amendment and prepare a recommendation,” the staff report states.

It is anticipated the amendment could be presented to the commission this fall, however, a full-year extension, permitted by the Coastal Act, allows “for uncertainty in the review process.”

Solana beach officials indicated to the commission they were amenable to the time expansion.

Once the Coastal Commission reviews the document, it will likely be returned to the city with suggested modifications. Council members will have 180 days from that time to review the changes.

They cannot pick and choose which modifications, if any, they want to accept. They must approve the document with all of the changes or none of them.

If they accept the modifications, it will go back to the Coastal Commission for final certification, making Solana Beach the last city in the county to have an approved Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan.

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