This is the South Orange County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation’s response to the September 23, Dana Point Times front-page article entitled, “Closing in on Compromise,” which reports on the illegal gates and hours at the mid- and central-Strands beach access.
While we appreciate that the Dana Point Times cited our recent statement regarding the City of Dana Point’s refusal to respond to the San Diego Superior Court ruling, we feel the article was one sided and provided the city’s staff attorney Patrick Munoz the opportunity to make a number of unsubstantiated claims without adequate response.
For example, Mr. Munoz claims that drawings incorporated with the original Commission approvals depict gates. He knows full well that conceptual drawings are not tantamount to permit approval. Further, the permit language in the Local Coastal Plan (LCP) amendment that allowed for the development of the Strands development is very explicit in its requirements for un-gated public beach access and states that any limitation of hours would require a Coastal Development Permit from the California Coastal Commission.
When the city and Headlands LLC sued the Coastal Commission to try to avoid the legal requirements of the development permit, the Commission’s responding legal brief responded by pointing to the Administrative Record of the LCP hearing states:
“…any limitation on the time of use of public beaches and parks shall be subject to a coastal development permit… The Commission only allowed gates in the Strand areas to restrict public vehicular access so long as pedestrian and bicycle access through the residential development to the beach remains unimpeded… a direct connection is provided between the mid-point of the beach parking lot and the Central Strand.”
It could not be more clear what is required.
Further, the very reason the city attempted to pass an emergency nuisance ordinance was to evade these requirements—requirements they are now claiming don’t exist. It should be noted that this emergency nuisance ordinance was summarily rejected by the San Diego Superior Court.
The other claims made by Mr. Munoz about nuisance and the potential for additional costs for sheriffs were the subject of the court hearing and those claims were deemed “entirely lacking in evidentiary support” and “based on pure speculation” by the San Diego Superior Court, yet Mr. Munoz continues repeat to these unsubstantiated claims.
Last, Mr. Munoz is quoted in the article claiming the city is now willing to seek compromise, however no such communication has been made to Surfrider Foundation, nor to the Coastal Commission as far as we know. The article implies that the city is moving towards compromise yet there is no evidence to support that to date. On the contrary, the city is currently appealing the San Diego Superior Court decision and shows absolutely no signs of complying with the law.
I hope Mr. Munoz actually means the city is willing to address their violation of the Coastal Act that is denying the required access to Strands Beach and isn’t just saying that to buy political cover for the city’s unpopular stance with the public.
In less than one month our chapter has collected over 3,000 signatures from locals, young and old, who are being
restricted of their rights to the mid-Strands beach access and imploring
the City of Dana Point to do their job and
represent the people, not a developer who has made multiple attempts to avoid providing beach access through his exclusive development.
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