The discretionary permitting process is often used by local governments to ensure that proposed land uses are compatible with existing land uses, and that they do not pose an undue risk to public health, safety, or welfare. This process typically involves a review of the proposed project by a local planning commission or other governing body, which then makes a recommendation to the local governing body (e.g. city council, county board of supervisors, etc.) as to whether or not the permit should be granted. Continue reading
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Your Discretionary Permit on the Central Coast: The California Coastal Commission
The California Coastal Commission is a state agency with quasi-judicial regulatory oversight over land use and public access in the California coastal zone. The Commission’s mission is “To protect, conserve, restore, and enhance the environment of the California coastline”. The Commission was established in 1972 by voter initiative via Proposition 20, initiated in part in response to the controversy surrounding the development of Sea Ranch, a planned coastal community in Sonoma County. Sea Ranch and other similar coastal projects of that era prompted the formation of activist groups whose efforts eventually led to putting Proposition 20 on the ballot.
Development activities are broadly defined to include construction of buildings, divisions of land, and activities that change the intensity of use of land. Development usually requires a Coastal Development Permit from either the Coastal Commission or local government. The Coastal Zone is described as the area from the Mean High Tide Line to a distance of between a couple of hundred feet in urban areas, to up to several miles in rural areas.
The Commission is the primary agency which issues Coastal Development Permits. However, once a local agency puts in place a Local Coastal Program (LCP) certified by the Commission, that local agency takes over the responsibility for issuing Coastal Development Permits. A Local Coastal Program (LCP) is composed of a Land Use Plan and an Implementation Plan. A Land Use Plan details the Land Uses permissible within the local jurisdiction’s area, specifying the general policies applicable to each Land Use. The Implementation Plan is responsible for implementing the policies contained in the Land Use Plan. The Implementation Plan is generally a part of a city’s zoning ordinance.
Coastal Zone Regulation, County of Santa Cruz:
In Santa Cruz County this zone extends about five miles inland from the North Coast. From Natural Bridges to 41st Avenue in Capitola, it extends about 0.6 miles inland. From Capitola to the south County boundary, it extends to Highway One.
Within this Zone, any person who wishes to do any sort of land development must obtain a Level 5 development permit. “Development” includes:
• Construction, reconstruction, alteration, or demolition.
• Grading, removing, placement, and extraction of earth material.
• Subdivision and minor land division.
• Change in the density or intensity of land use.
• Harvesting major vegetation, except for agriculture and timber harvesting.
Coastal Commission proceeding in the County of Santa Cruz are administered as Level-V application and heard in Public Hearing by the Zoning Administrator. For more information see: https://www.sccoplanning.com/PlanningHome/ZoningDevelopment/DevelopmentPermits/Level5ZoningAdministratorPermits/CoastalPermits/CoastalZonePermits.aspx
Coastal Zone Regulation in City of Santa Cruz:
The City of Santa Cruz has a fully certified local coastal program. Applications are processed either by administrative review or, if necessary, before the City’s Planning Commission. For more information go to: https://www.cityofsantacruz.com/government/about-us/general-plan
Coastal Zone Regulation in City of Capitola:
The City of Capitola has a fully certified local coastal program. Applications are processed through the Planning Department’s discretionary permit process administered by the City’s Department of Community Development and if necessary, heard by the Planning Commission. Additional information go to: http://www.cityofcapitola.org/general/page/community-development-home
Coastal Zone Regulation in Monterey County:
The Local Coastal Plan for the County of Monterey was written in conjunction with a citizen’s advisory committee and adopted by the Board of Supervisors as part of the the County’s Zoning Ordinance. Because the County of Monterey’s Coastal Plan has been certified by the State of California Coastal Commission, the County is authorized to issue Coastal Permits. Implementation is through the County’s Regional Management Agency (RMA): https://www.co.monterey.ca.us/government/departments-i-z/resource-management-agency/planning
Coastal Zone Regulation in City of Marina:
The City of Marina has a fully certified local coastal program. For information about Marina’s local coastal land use plan go to: http://www.ci.marina.ca.us/index.aspx?NID=171
Coastal Zone Regulation in Sand City:
Sand City has a fully certified local coastal program. For information go to: http://www.sandcity.org/government/departments/Planning.aspx
Coastal Zone Regulation in City of Seaside:
City of Seaside has recently implemented a local coastal program in accordance with California Coastal Commission requirements: https://www.ci.seaside.ca.us/272/Local-Coastal-Program
Coastal Zone Regulation in City of Monterey:
City of Monterey has recently implemented a local coastal program in accordance with California Coastal Commission requirements: https://www.co.monterey.ca.us/government/departments-i-z/resource-management-agency-rma-/planning/application-process-forms-fees/permit-process/coastal-development-permit
Coastal Zone Regulation in City of Pacific Grove:
The City of Pacific Grove does not currently have a local coastal program in place. Coastal permit applications within City limits are referred to the regional California Coastal Commission. The City has an implementation plan located at: https://www.cityofpacificgrove.org/sites/default/files/general-documents/local-coastal-program/pg-ip_feb-2017.pdf
Coastal Zone Regulation in City of Carmel:
The City of Carmel has a fully certified local coastal program. Carmel-By-The-Sea’s Local Coastal Program (LCP) was certified by the Coastal Commission in 2004. The link to the City’s Coastal Land Use Plan is at: http://www.coastal.ca.gov/sc/carmel-rev-lup.pdf