Kehoe leads California Coastal Commission in strengthening coastal program protections


oastal Commissioner and City Councilmember Christine Kehoe led the charge at the February meeting of the California Coastal Commission (CCC) to protect San Diego's coastline. The Commission, meeting at the Hotel Del Coronado, reviewed and acted on the coastal portions of the City of San Diego's Land Development Code, which contains new regulations for approving construction projects.

Supporting motions made by Kehoe, the CCC directed the City of San Diego to make a series of modifications to the proposed regulations for land development that would strengthen protections of coastal resources.

"With this recent action, we essentially increased the protections of coastal wetlands and sensitive hillsides, and better preserved coastal views," said Kehoe. "San Diego's coast is an area that deserves special protections because of its beauty and accessibility to the public, and the Coastal Commission has now mandated these safeguards."

Under the California Coastal Act, the CCC must review and approve local coastal programs for local jurisdictions which regulate land development in the coastal zone. The required modifications will limit the type of uses permitted in wetlands, ensure an adequate buffer area to protect wetland areas and to ensure adequate mitigation when wetlands are lost to unavoidable development. The Commission also required that the City's regulations for hillside development extend to all lots within the coastal zone, rejecting the City's proposal that lots under 15,000 square feet be exempted from controls.

The CCC adopted motions by Kehoe that will: 1) promote habitat restoration in the Tijuana River Valley, as part of the region's Multiple Species Conservation Program; 2) establish tough standards for deviations from any of the coastal regulations; and 3) require that specific standards be met for any encroachments into sensitive coastal hillsides.

The Land Development Code returns to the San Diego City Council for final action to incorporate the Coastal Commission modifications. The City Council must either adopt the modifications, simply maintain the present regulations which have previous Coastal Commission approval, or surrender the authority to regulate development in the coastal zone to the Coastal Commission.

"This represents the final leg of what has been an eight-year review process," said Kehoe. "It fulfills the City's goal of streamlining, simplifying and clarifying its development regulations."

  Contact: George Biagi (619) 236-6633, Fax: (619) 595-1481