02 • 13 • 2020
Save North Strands Beach
In February 2020, the South Orange County Chapter successfully campaigned to the California Coastal Commission to deny a proposed 1,200+ft. rock revetment from covering the remaining sand at Strands Beach in Dana Point - the revetment would have protected private homes at the expense of the public beach and public mitigation funds from Orange County Parks.
The people of California would have lost Strands Beach in Dana Point to the sole benefit of the nearby property owners had the proposed revetment been approved. Surfrider opposed the proposed shoreline armoring at Strands Beach for purposes of stabilizing the Niguel Shores Community Association for the following reasons:
- The absence of the key applicant;
- The appropriateness of the design and sufficiency of the alternatives analysis;
- The suitability of the proposed mitigation.
To expand, the permit conditions would appropriately apply the real estate valuation method and requires a $14,792,933 mitigation fee – currently to be paid by the County as the sole applicant for the proposed development – to offset the enormous impacts that the new revetment will have on Strands Beach. However, the project applicant, OC Parks would be on the hook to pay this mitigation fee because the Community Association refused to join the application and therefore the Coastal Commission has no way to require them to pay the mitigation fee, nor be subject to deed restrictions for no future reliance on shoreline armoring. The people of California would lose this beach to the sole benefit of the nearby property owners. In the interest of what fairness can be found in such a situation, the property owners must be held accountable to pay the mitigation fee since they alone.
Further, the proposed development was not adequately designed to avoid impacts. Surfrider asserts that the alternatives analysis should be subject to more public outreach, review and scrutiny. Options to locate the revetment further landward or avoid it all together must be extensively exhausted before sacrificing valuable public resources at Strands Beach.
Finally, Surfrider asserts that the proposed application of the mitigation fee was not adequately addressed. No potential project was identified and the permit would have allowed the mitigation to be spent on coastal access improvements adjacent to the beach, rather than focusing on restoring or preserving beach space elsewhere with a living shoreline or natural infrastructure project.