Coastal Commission Disagrees With Engineering Experts in Andre Hurst Application for Coastal Permit Encinitas

On March 7, 2019, Coastal Commission Staff denied Andre Hurst permit to rebuild his 70-year-old home. In the denial of Andre Hurst for his coastal permit for reconstruction of his home, the Coastal Commission staff asserts that the new home will be unsafe.

The most important statement in the Staff Report is buried on page 33 is: "The Commission staff geologist and senior coastal engineer have reviewed the site geology and the submitted analysis and determined that with the existing shore and bluff protection, the site is stable for purposes of constructing the proposed home from a geologist's perspective." 

The City's geotechnical engineer (James Knowlton, E.G. 1045); the applicant's geotechnical engineer (Walter Crampton, GE 245, CE 23792); the engineer who designed the shoreline protection (John Niven, PE 57917); the wave impact engineer (David Skelley, RCE 47857); and the Commission's own experts, Joseph Street and Leslie Ewing, are all in agreement that the proposed home is sited in a stable location with a 40 foot setback from the bluff edge due to the existing shoreline protection permitted by the Commission.

Despite the universal expert opinion that the site is stable, the Staff recommends denial alleging that the Encinitas LCP prohibits relying on lawful shoreline devices into account when determining stability. "The City's certified LCP does not allow for new development to rely on existing shoreline armoring. (LUP Policy 16(e) [armoring solely for existing structures]" Staff Report p. 17. The past decisions of this Commission, along with numerous other reasons, show Staff’s statement is untrue, according to Andre Hurst's attorney. There is a long history of homes approved on Encinitas bluffs. In addition, at the hearing for Mr. Hurst’s application, Chairperson Donna Bochco asserted that the “I also don’t think it even makes sense for us to say that the seawall cannot be counted towards the setback for disallowing … or protecting from erosion because it’s there and we can’t take it out and we can’t make them do that for many reasons.”

Despite these facts in the report, Coastal Commission still denied Mr. Hurst’s application to rebuild his home. 

Source: California Coastal Commission

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