Inter-Departmental Correspondence

Planning and Building Department



November 16, 2009


December 1, 2009







Honorable Board of Supervisors and Interested Parties



Lisa Grote, Director of Community Development



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Final Recommendations on the Midcoast Update Local Coastal Program Amendments




Receive staff’s presentation and public comments regarding the Coastal Commission staff’s revised recommendations on the Midcoast Update Local Coastal Program amendments.



Provide guidance to staff about presenting the County’s position on the revised recommendations to the California Coastal Commission at the public hearing scheduled for December 10, 2009 in San Francisco.



The upcoming California Coastal Commission (CCC) hearing on the Midcoast Local Coastal Program (LCP) Update is one of the final and most important steps in obtaining CCC certification of the amendments. It is the culmination of a ten-year effort to improve the policies and standards for development in the urban areas of El Granada, Princeton, Moss Beach, and Montara. If approved by the CCC, the County will, in most likelihood, need to accept changes determined by the CCC to be necessary to achieve Coastal Act consistency in order for the amendments to take effect. An initial version of the recommended modifications was released by CCC staff in February 2009, and followed by two Board of Supervisors hearings to consider the significant issues raised by these changes.


Of the nineteen issues of concern identified by the County, thirteen have been resolved and six remain unresolved. In addition, a new issue has been raised by CCC staff, which brings the count of unresolved issues to seven. These include:


A reduction in the County’s proposed 75 residential units per year growth limit to 40 units per year. It remains unclear how this growth rate relates to new policies recommended by CCC staff that prohibit any new development, except single-family residences and visitor-serving uses, until traffic conditions improve.

The prohibition of private wells in the urban area until a groundwater management plan is incorporated into the LCP. County staff has proposed an alternative, to be considered by the Board on December 1, 2009, that amends the County well ordinance to establish a temporary restriction on new wells within certain groundwater basin areas that may be at risk.

Restrictions on the size of public works that limit their capacity based on the existing or reasonably foreseeable capacity of other infrastructure. This policy has the potential to impede needed water and roadway projects, and is unnecessary in light of the existing environmental review and permitting requirements for public works.

The deletion of a requirement to reserve additional water supplies for affordable housing, and the revision of existing priorities for affordable housing that gives affordable housing lower standing than Coastal Act priorities.

The requirement that new land divisions retire an equivalent amount of development potential through lot retirement, particularly its application to subdivisions processed for the purpose of legalizing existing landholdings.

Rezoning the Devil’s Slide bypass lands prior to the resolution of issues regarding underlying rights-of-way, areas needed for staging and maintenance purposes, and differentiating between portions of the bypass lands that provide good opportunities for recreation and open space preservation and those that may be better suited for infill development.

CCC staff has recently identified concerns about the “grandfather provisions” of the amendment. It is unclear whether this concern will result in a recommendation from CCC staff that would require the County to adjust its long-standing policy toward projects already in the pipeline, which would raise issues of fairness and represents a departure from standard County procedures.


Staff of the Planning and Building Department will coordinate with the District 3 Supervisor’s Office to present the County’s position on these unresolved issues to the CCC at the December 10, 2009 hearing in San Francisco. This presentation will identify the concerns and requested changes described in Section 2 of the staff report, as they may be refined and supplemented based on the feedback provided by the Board at its December 1, 2009 meeting. The County’s participation in the CCC hearing on the Midcoast Update will help avoid changes by the CCC that run counter to the County’s 2025 Shared Vision for a livable community, such as changes recommended by CCC staff that limit growth near transit and create impediments for projects that will result in more livable and connected communities.



The County has committed significant staff and financial resources towards developing the Midcoast Update and completing the Coastal Commission certification process. A timely and successful resolution of the issues identified by this report, as necessary to obtain certification of the amendments, is needed to realize the objectives of this investment and avoid further strains on limited County staffing and financial resources.