Update on the Status of the Appeals Regarding Leucadia 101 Streetscape
Two California Coastal Commission members appealed the Coastal Development Permit (CDP) application Encinitas filed to build Leucadia 101 Streetscape. One appeal was by Commissioner Effie Turnbull-Sanders; the other was by Commissioner Steve Padilla. Turnbull-Sanders is vice chair of the commission, appointed by Governor Jerry Brown. Padilla is the San Diego coast representative, appointed by the speaker of the state Assembly. Although Turnbull-Sanders and Padilla filed their appeals independently, they are duplicates. Several Encinitas residents also filed appeals.
The commissioners’ appeals established that the CDP application is appealable, pointed out a procedural error by the city and cited several instances where the proposed project is inconsistent with the California Coastal Act of 1976 and/or Encinitas’ Local Coastal Program. I’ve paraphrased or quoted the commissioners’ appeals at the bullets below and have added my comments in brackets.
• For the approximately one-half mile between La Costa Avenue and Grandview Street, the proposed project is in the first public road adjacent to the ocean. The project is a major public works project in the Coastal Zone costing more than $100,000. Either point makes the CDP application appealable.
• Before submitting a CDP application to the CCC, the city should have submitted an application to amend its Local Coastal Program (LCP). The city did this backwards. It submitted the CDP application first and the LCP amendment application second.
• The proposed project is inconsistent with the Coastal Act and the city’s Local Coastal Program in significant ways regarding public access to the beach and being able to enjoy a recreational drive along the coast. [In effect, the commissioners are saying the proposed project is illegal.]
• The proposed project would have adverse impacts on coastal access: It’s likely to increase travel time through the corridor. It potentially will deter the public from visiting Encinitas beaches from inland. It will change the character of the coastal corridor, a scenic highway that affords intermittent ocean vistas. Driving the corridor as a recreational experience may be deterred by road changes and the potential increased congestion. Leucadia Highway 101 is a major coastal access corridor. Improvements should be part of a balanced circulation system that maintains vehicle movement and coastal access to visitor destinations.
• The city only analyzed morning and evening peak traffic, not weekend and summer traffic that could affect the public’s ability to get to the beach. The lack of analysis on the public’s ability to access the beach raises major Coastal Act and Local Coastal Program consistency concerns. [The commissioners are doubting the project’s legality.]
• The new sidewalk proposed for the east side of 101 would interfere with informal and proposed parking bays there. The city must analyze historic parking use and whether the project would have adverse effects.
• The analysis of the “Four-Lane Corridor Alternative” is inadequate. It should be further evaluated because it would “result in lesser traffic impacts” than the proposed project. The proposed project would have the potential to significantly impact public access to the coast. [The “Four-Lane Corridor Alternative” is also the “Environmentally Superior Alternative.”]
• The project proposes roundabouts at six intersections. That would put traffic signals and roundabouts very close together. That makes analysis of the alternatives inadequate because it assumes roundabouts are an all-or-nothing proposition. The city’s analysis should include alternatives with roundabouts numbering from zero to six.
Several of the points made in the commissioners’ appeals were also made in the Coastal Commission staff’s March 29 letter to city staffer Anna Yentile. Every point is valid.
Next, the Coastal Commission staff will read the appeals and separate the wheat from the chaff. They’ll pull out the points that are within the commission’s jurisdiction and that the staff judges might amount to “substantial issues.” The question is whether or not the proposed project violates the Coastal Act and Encinitas’ Local Coast Program, which itself reflects the Coastal Act.
If the staff’s judgment is that substantial issues have been raised, they’ll recommend that the full commission hears the appeal. They’ll write a succinct explanation of the substantial issues and a thorough report justifying their conclusion about them. They’ll write a motion for a commissioner to make during the hearing, and they’ll make a recommendation as to which way the commissioners should vote.
If the city doesn’t withdraw its CDP application, if the Coastal Commission staff recommends a hearing and if there are no delays, the full commission hearing will be in June or July.
— Doug Fiske