The Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a blueprint for development in Santa Barbara's coastal zone. The council voted 6-0, with Randy Rowse absent because he owns property in the coastal zone, to support a new Local Coastal Program land-use plan. “This is an extraordinary moment,” Councilman Gregg Hart said. “Nothing that is this worthwhile is ever easy.”
City planners spent several years drafting a new plan to overhaul one that was originally approved in 1986. The document focuses on protection and the balanced use of coastal resources, along with maximizing public access to the coast. Most of Tuesday's discussion focused on the types of private development that would be allowed on the bluffs. City planners said each case would be different, depending on geological reports, but “what we are trying to do is allow some minor development in that coastal edge,” said Debra Andaloro, the principal planner who oversaw the project.
The document also recognizes the issue of sea level rise and the potential erosion of bluff tops over the next 50 to 75 years.“Sea level rise is something that is happening and we need to address it,” Andaloro said. The 372-page document, complete with colorful maps, spotlights mostly technical changes to the plan, but has a focus on sea level rise and the importance of regulating development and maintaining buffers on the coastal bluffs. The city’s coastal zone is about 4 miles long, and about 65 percent of the city’s shoreline is in public ownership.
The city must still send the project to the California Coastal Commission for approval. “This is one of the greatest examples of public outreach to the community and stakeholders that I have seen in all my years,” said longtime community activist Lee Moldaver. Councilman Eric Friedman praised the plan.
“What we're really trying to do is put policies in place that will benefit future generations of Santa Barbarans,” Friedman said.