Posted on Categories Sonoma CoastTags , ,

Why you should participate in the Local Coastal Plan process

Eric Koenigshoffer, SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE

If you are wondering why you should participate in the process now underway to update the Local Coastal Plan let me offer my take on the core reason. The continuation of sound public policy protecting the coast from excessive development while ensuring access to the beach and care of the environment requires commitment. That commitment comes in the form of work…that’s right, work. Doing the work of learning the issues and the process and then showing up.

Sonoma County Permit & Resource Management Department (Permit Sonoma) recently released the Draft Update of the Local Coastal Plan (LCP). Meetings seeking community input are now underway. The draft document is available on-line at the PRMD website. Hard copies are available for review in public libraries around the county. There will be public hearings as the process unfolds.

The current LCP is 270 pages. Find it here.

The draft update LCP is 424 pages. Find it here.

In addition to the main body of the document there is also an appendix of a few hundred pages.

The work of wading through hundreds of pages of (let’s face it) sometimes boring text requires tenacity (and lots of coffee!).

One very basic point to remember when reviewing the Draft LCP is that the Coastal Zone is different than any other area of the county. You will see references made to conforming the LCP and the Sonoma County General Plan. Fact is, the two documents can conform with one another in most aspects but not completely. The Coastal Zone is subject to a variety of statewide policies which do not apply to the General Plan. These policies speak to issues which are unique to the coast. Here are a few examples:
Public Access:

At the core of the 1972 Coastal Initiative and reaffirmed in the 1976 Coastal Act is the public’s right under the California Constitution to access the states shoreline. All policies within the Coastal Zone are subject to this fact. Permits issued in the Coastal Zone often have special conditions applied to implement access.
Visitor Serving facilities:

Coastal access results in visitors. Visitors need services. These services include hotel rooms and other lodging, campgrounds, restaurants, groceries, gas stations, electric charging stations, etc. Implementing access to the shore includes making sure these services are available. This is state policy which does not apply elsewhere in the county. Of course, implementing this policy should be mindful of impacts on local coastal residents and communities while meeting state law.
Coastal Dependent use priority:

Use of land in the Coastal zone is subject to policy which sets priorities by type of use. Protecting environmental values and unique natural features is a high priority. Preserving coastal agriculture is too. Housing to meet local community needs is recognized as also important. A notable specific point is that “coastal dependent” uses are preferred over general commercial uses. For example, visitor serving use such as lodging is preferred over a non-coastal-dependent commercial use.

Update of the LCP and General Plan take place every 20 years to so. This is equivalent to the generally accepted definition of a generation as being 20-years. It is important that each update cycle engage each new generation and explore the policies at issue and the history of how these important policies came to be.

I’m confident Supervisor Hopkins will make sure the public engagement process is truly open and transparent she’s good about such things!

Source: https://www.sonomacountygazette.com/sonoma-county-news/changes-to-our-coast-the-local-coastal-plan-lcp

Posted on Categories Land Use, Sonoma CoastTags , , ,

Coast at a crossroads

Richard Charter, Letter to the Editor, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
More than 100 local residents packed standing-room-only into the Timber Cove firehouse on Monday for a lively interaction with Sonoma County planning staff now rewriting our Local Coastal Plan. The plan guides new development, as well as future protection, for our treasured coastal lands.
Opening the Sonoma Coast to large event centers and big wine-tasting venues, or to other industrial-scale activities, lies at the heart of the emerging debate over the plan. County planning staff is proposing to inappropriately transfer lax inland rules from the county’s general plan and, for the first time, put them into a revised Local Coastal Plan. If eventually certified by the California Coastal Commission, this proposed weakening of the coastal plan language would undermine longstanding coastal protections.
Irreversibly ripping out coastal forests ignores our chronic shortage of water, while logging and grading impacts are an obvious threat to erosion-prone soils on unstable hillsides and dump silt into our streams. Our Sonoma Coast needs to have its own protections maintained and shouldn’t be lumped together with inland urban areas.
The deadline to comment on the coastal plan is Sept. 30, and you can send your comments to PRMD-LCP-Update@sonoma-county.org.
For more information, visit preserveruralsonomacounty.org.
Source: Thursday’s Letters to the Editor | The Press Democrat