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Sea wall recreational fee study available for comment

SOLANA BEACH — A draft report to determine the recreational value of the beach, which will then be used to calculate how much property owners should compensate the public for the loss of beach caused by sea walls constructed to protect their homes, is available for public review and comment through Jan. 19.

To determine the recreational value of the beach at various locations, CIC Research Inc. 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 this year would be required to pay $42,300.

The same owner will have to pay $65,550 11 years from now.

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 Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan 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 LCP, 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, which will enable the transfer of coastal development permit authority to Solana Beach.

A draft study fee was released in 2010, before the city adopted its LUP. The city used a $120,000 grant from the California Coastal Commission to update the study.  All work must be completed by April 2016.

That gives the city about three months to respond to comments made during the public review period as well as during public hearings and for council to approve the document.

It can be viewed on the city website. Copies are also available at City Hall and the Solana Beach Library.

Comments must be in writing and should be directed to Bill Chopyk, community development director, and can be hand delivered, mailed or emailed to 635 S. Coast Hwy. 101, Solana Beach, CA 92075 or

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