News Notes from July Coastal Commission Meeting

The California Coastal Commission’s application filing fees are going up for the first time in 11 years, and permit applicants may have sticker shock. The state agency is supposed to adjust fees over time to keep pace with inflation. Instead of increasing the rate gradually over the past decade, staff is proposing bumping it up by nearly 25 percent all at once.

Topanga residents who live in the Coastal Zone apply for Coastal Development Permits—CDPs—through the County of Los Angeles, not directly to the Coastal Commission, but the fee increase is expected to ultimately impact all communities under the Coastal Commission’s jurisdiction. The increase is part of an annual inflation adjustment requirement that became law in 2008. The staff report stresses that the Commission has no discretion to change the amount of the threshold.

The fees generated are deposited into the Coastal Act Services Fund and are used  to implement the Coastal Act and fund the State Coastal Conservancy The schedule of filing fees will be adjusted for inflation effective July 1, of this year, once the item is approved by the commission at its July meeting. The new fee schedule will be posted on the Commission’s website.

The Coastal Commission will spend the last day of its three-day monthly meeting in San Luis Obispo at  a workshop that deals with three issues: short-term rentals, sea level rise and how the Local Coastal Program is implemented..

Unincorporated Los Angeles County’s Local Coastal Program was certified in 2014 and is not currently an issue, but short-term rentals are increasingly a concern in Topanga and throughout the Santa Monica Mountains and Malibu. Issues include houses that are purchased expressly for use as short term rentals, unsupervised party houses that create noise and parking issues on narrow canyon roads, and the impact of the new industry on the availability of long term rentals.Advocates for the rentals stress that they provide affordable holiday options for visitors and help provide supplemental income for residents.

Sea level rise is also a serious local issue, as Pacific Coast Highway and local beaches are increasingly at risk from erosion during storms, big surf, and astronomical high tides. 

In 2014, local residents received a firsthand look at the potential impact of sea level rise, when big waves generated by tropical storm Maria undermined PCH at Las Tunas Beach just west of Topanga, exposing infrastructure like gas and water lines and putting them at risk. 

The workshop schedule promises: “a full, frank and mutually respectful discussion of key coastal city and county issues.”

 and concerns related to interactions with the Commission on Short-Term Rentals (STR), Sea Level Rise (SLR) and the Local Coastal Program (LCP) process.

The goals for the meeting include seeking “agreement on priorities and specific actions wherever possible for each topic,” and identifying “next steps and commitments to develop more specific strategies and solutions for each topic following this workshop.”

On the issue of vacation rentals, the staff report singles out the need to balance preservation of residential neighborhoods with coastal vacation access. 

Local governments, including Los Angeles County, are increasingly wrestling with the needs of residents and visitors, and the impact of short-term rentals on long-term rental pricing and availability.

All of the  issues discussed at the workshop  are expected to return as action items at future commission hearings…


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