Three Coastal Commission Strikes, But Do Not Count Coronado Out - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Opinion

Three Coastal Commission Strikes, But Do Not Count Coronado Out

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Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2019 10:55 am

The Intergovernmental Panel on climate change (IPPC) defines adaptation as “any adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities”.

I was able to research that definition in 0.57 seconds through the magic of Google. Yet over the last four years, on three specific occasions, the California Coastal Commission has clearly illustrated their intransigent and transactional nature and stopping local efforts to act in a sustainable manner and adapt to expected sea level rise and thus acted as in impediment to the very goals they ruefully espouse.

One of my early votes on City Council was to approve the environmental documentation for a beach restroom for an underserved but well-travelled area of our nationally recognized beach. Positioned on the sand at the end of Avenida del Sol, the public facility would have served a need that was clearly demonstrated by the overwhelming use of our temporary facility that city staff could barely properly maintain due to its “poop-ularity.”

The facility was a model in adaptation designed to withstand the rigors of its’ coastal location and at the end of its 50 years useful life to be removed with any evidence of its having been there washed away with the next high tide. Our city was clearly prepared to move forward but the project missed Coastal Commission approval since by their logic it was proposed for a “too dangerous” location. The chair even commented that an example needed to be set for other jurisdictions. To be sure, the continued use of the rocks and adjacent beaches as a restroom was less important than posturing against a necessary project that was a model of adaption engineering.

The second egregious example is the ongoing adaptation efforts at Coronado Yacht Club. The 100 year old club is hoping to raise the height of its clubhouse by 2 feet along with the demolition of its’s World War II era building repurposed from its prior use as a WAVE’s barracks and towed to its current location in 1947 from the shoreline at First Street and E Avenue. The new structure was designed to fit the Port District mandated rules reflecting “repair and replace” in that the existing square footage, seating and uses would be maintained and importantly, the new building would have adequate plumbing, electrical and of course elevation to take care of the projected sea level rise.

Even though the club had deeded significant portion of its water-side lease hold to create a public bayside park and vehicle parking lot southwest of its’ remaining leasehold, the Coastal Commission determined that it was not enough public benefit. In order to accomplish their adaptation, Coronado Yacht Club was expected to relocate the building location from historic waterfront location and to bisect its historical connection to the water and accommodate a public path that would dead end at the golf course.

This egregious demand was impossible to accomplish due to safety concerns of both the Junior Sailing program and the operation of two cranes as well as the obvious folly of placing a public path in the same flooding areas necessitating the adaptation project in the first place. The standoff continues as the tides rise higher. Once again, the stated goal of adaptation takes a back seat to demands for already provided and sufficient adjacent public access.

The third and least defensible Coastal Commission adaptation fumble is related to the repurposing of sand excavated as part of the southern-most Hotel del Coronado master plan project. A single story-parking garage will be created under the two new guest wings between the exciting Ocean Towers building and Avenida del Sol. It was hoped that the sand from this dig could be moved across the Paseo walkway as a nourishment for an area of the beach that eroded dangerously in a 2017 winter storm and has been identified in multiple regional vulnerability studies. Unfortunately, the misguided transactional Coastal Commission staff tried to create a nexus between the nourishment project and their desire to have Coronado stop grooming its beaches. To be sure, the seaweed we rake and the proud spelling of “Coronado” in our sand dunes can’t be considered in anyway related to the adaptation project.

Although three strikes in baseball ends the batters turn at the plate, we as a city will need to stay at the plate and swing for the fences to preserve our community pressing forward with adaptation strategies in the face of Coastal Commission regulatory intransigence.

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