Coastal Commission Moves Forward on Coastal Permits

Look for more barges and tugs in the bay off Sunset. The Coastal Commission has approved Los Angeles Department of Water and Power plans to remove its obsolete electrical grounding system from the sea floor. The crane-boat shown above elicited community interest and generated a host of theories when it arrived in 2018 to install the new Sylmar Ground Return System. Photo by Suzanne Guldimann

The California Coastal Commission okays PCH parking restrictions and moves to complete removal of 24 undersea concrete vaults located in Santa Monica Bay.


Los Angeles County is expected to move forward with plans to implement parking restrictions on a short stretch of Pacific Coast Highway between Coastline Drive and Topanga Canyon Boulevard. The permit for the plan was appealed to the California Coastal Commission at the coastal agency’s October meeting in Chula Vista, but the commissioners found that there was no substantive issue with the plan, clearing the county to proceed.

The 0.7-mile stretch of road has approximately 274 public parking spaces for beachgoers, according to the Commission report. Parking is currently unrestricted, which has recently attracted overnight vehicle camping, including a number of semi-permanent large recreational vehicles whose occupants have been dubbed by some “Palipangans.”

The approved parking restrictions would apply within the entire project area, and prohibit parking on the landward side of PCH between 12- 2 a.m., and on the seaward side of PCH between 2-4 a.m.

The county’s goal is to increase parking turnover and discourage parking of recreational and commercial vehicles overnight and for extended periods. Officials have cited safety and sanitation issues. No water, restrooms, or blackwater disposal is available in the area.

Signage will be installed on existing posts and poles; no new posts are proposed as part of the project. 

According to the staff report, the appellant in this case made a “general assertion” that the project would adversely impact public access. The Coastal Commission found that although the restrictions would reduce the amount of available parking spaces by approximately half for a total of four hours per night, the supply of available parking for beach access would continue to exceed demand because the restriction hours will be at a time of night when beach access parking demand is relatively low…. Further, maximum public access opportunities and adequate parking to serve beach recreation uses would continue to be provided, consistent with the Coastal Act.”

Campers with operable vehicles will be obliged to move once every 24 hours under the plan. Those with inoperable vehicles will have to move on, or face parking citations.

The county acknowledged that safe, overnight parking for the homeless is important. The staff report stressed that the county is seeking solutions, but that the safety and sanitation concerns outweighed the need for unrestricted parking in this instance. 



The California Coastal Commission also approved a permit for the removal of 24 undersea concrete vaults located in the Santa Monica Bay offshore from Sunset Blvd. 

This is the final phase of the Sylmar Ground Return System (SGRS) Replacement Project. In 2017, the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP) received approval to replace the aging cable and electrical array that grounds a major electric transmission system stretching from the Pacific Northwest, to Los Angeles.

As part of its leasing process for the SGRS Replacement Project, the California State Lands Commission required LADWP to remove the original components following completion of a feasibility study.

Key Coastal Act issues raised by this project include potential adverse impacts to marine resources and water quality, commercial and recreational fishing, and cultural resources. The commission added several special conditions to the permit to protect the sea floor and bottom areas and kelp beds while vessels are anchored at the site and during the removal process.

The LADWP is also required to submit a Marine Wildlife Monitoring and Contingency Plan for the protection of marine mammals and sea turtles. The contractors are prohibited from discharging waste of any kind in the bay, and any cultural or archeological artifacts recovered during the project must be protected and properly handled, according to the staff report.  

The 2018 installation project elicited community interest and extensive speculation because it involved many large vessels close to shore. A new armada of tugboats, barges, and other large vessels is expected to accompany this final phase of the project.


Suzanne Guldimann

Suzanne Guldimann is an author, artist, and musician who lives in Malibu and loves the Santa Monica Mountains. She has worked as a journalist reporting on local news and issues for more than a decade, and is the author of nine books of music for the harp. Suzanne's newest book, "Life in Malibu", explores local history and nature. She can be reached at

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.