California Coastal Commission Argues Erosion Rate in Homeowner Permit Application for Andre Hurst and Again Ignores the Encinitas LCP

On March 7, 2019, Coastal Commission Staff denied Andre Hurst permit to rebuild his 70-year-old home. In analyzing the staff report the coastal commission staff asserts that rates of erosion must be added to factor of safety. In the opinion of Andre Hurst's attorney, the dispute over whether you add predicted erosion to factor of safety is irrelevant. 

Pages 15 to 28 of the Hurst Staff Report exhaustively argue that after ignoring the existing shoreline protection, you must add a predicted rate of erosion to the 1.5 factor of safety. The City reads the LCP to require the greater of the predicted rate of erosion or the 1.5 factor of safety, but not less than 40 feet. This dispute is irrelevant to Hurst because it is only an issue when you ignore the reality of prior Commission approved shoreline protection. Similarly, the Street/Ewing 11 page technical memorandum (Hurst Staff Report, Exhibit 12) primarily ignores the approved shoreline protection because that is what Street and Ewing were directed to do.

The Hurst Staff Report reproduces Figure 11 from a 1996 Moffatt & Nichol Report at page 224. (Exhibit 11). Figure 11 states clearly "SETBACK EVALUATIONS - AREAS WITHOUT SHORE PROTECTION". If the Commission will simply review Figure 12 in Moffatt & Nichal Report, you will find "SET BACK EVALUATIONS - AREAS WITH SEAWALLS/BLUFF STABILIZATION". No future erosion setback is required. Moffatt and Nichol explain on page 54 of Hurst Staff Report Exhibit 11 that "Shore protection will essentially halt coastal erosion", and "bluff stabilization measures can also be effective in reducing the minimum setback distance." The Hurst property seawall and bluff stabilization measures allow for what all experts agree is a safe minimum setback distance of 40 feet. Street and Ewing advise the Commission that sea level rise will not affect erosion of the bluff. Some waves may reach above the seawall to the terrace materials "but flow rates would be small and significant erosion of the terrace material is not anticipated." (Hurst Staff Report, Exhibit 12, p. 9.) The Street and Ewing prediction of potential bluff erosion is only "in the absence of the existing bluff stabilization". No opinion is expressed for bluff retreat with the existing stabilization. When the Commission has been faced with insufficient evidence of a rate of bluff retreat, the Commission has relied upon the waiver of future shoreline protection and assumption of the risk in finding that future shoreline protection will not occur.

Source: California Coastal Commission