Warning: County rushing to approve Local Coastal Plan with insufficient time for public input

By Preserve Rural Sonoma County

“Know the coast as the geographic soul of California. You can’t take our relationship with the [California] coast for granted because it took a lot of sweat, blood and tears to preserve it so we have what we have today. These things didn’t just happen. The coast is what it is because a lot of people worked really hard and sacrificed to protect it. And if we want it to be there for our children, we have to keep fighting to protect it. In that way, the coast is never saved, it’s always being saved.” Peter Douglas, past Executive Director, California Coastal Commission.

Four years ago, a citizens group provided input on the Local Coastal Plan (LCP) draft and met with planners in Timber Cove to express concerns and were told their input would be included in the next iteration of the LCP. This input was completely ignored and left out of the current draft.

The County is trying to push this through for a final vote before giving adequate time for the public to digest this document and provide meaningful input that can be incorporated into the final version. It’s a long and very important document that will have effects for years to come.

Please take action. The public needs time to review.

Local Coastal Plan Update
On September 26, 2019 Permit Department posted the current 2019 Local Coastal Plan (LCP) Update. It is substantially revised and merits rounds of public workshops that have been proposed for October and November.

The timeline proposed for public comment prior to the revised draft being heard before the Planning Commission has not been clearly defined. This is now a complex 400 page document with critical policy issues. The suggested timeline is insufficient. The first LCP, drafted over 20 years ago, had 95 people working on it, including 5 technical scientific committees, 4 citizen committees, and a few other categories. It took them 4 years to create protections for this unique region.

It is important that adequate time be provided to ensure “meaningful public participation” and provide citizen input that can be incorporated into the final version, which is mandated in the Coastal Act.

The LCP is a large document and a critical one for the Sonoma Coast as it is THE document that controls all future development for 55 miles of the Sonoma Coastal Zone and ensures equitable public access to the coast and protection of critical coastal resources (including environmentally sensitive habitat areas). It is the controlling document for the Coast going forward and we will have to live with/by this document for the foreseeable future.

We deserve to be allotted the time and the public participation process
commensurate with the document’s critical importance to the future of the

Get Involved – Please Take the Following 2 Initial Steps:
1. Take the PRMD LCP Survey https://lcpupdate.metroquest.com/ to request that workshops and written comment period is provided for and ask for at least 4 months to allow for comment. Get on the mailing list for LCP updates such as schedule of workshops or hearings by going to https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/PRMD/Long-Range-Plans/Local-Coastal-Program/Proposed/ and in the right column there is a “Follow Us” link where you can submit your email address.
2. Email PRMD-LCP-Update@sonoma-county.org cc Lynda
Hopkins: Lynda.Hopkins@sonoma-county.org and Coastal Commission
Stephanie Rexing: stephanie.rexing@coastal.ca.gov . Begin by stating why protection of the Sonoma Coast matters to you and then request that there be meaningful public participation in the LCP update process as required by the Coastal Act. Ask that the following provisions be made for the comment period:
a) Adequate time is provided to the public to review the Updated Local Coastal Plan prior to public workshops that are scheduled (minimum of 4 months from date of release – September 26th, 2019)
b) That the County schedule a minimum of 5 public workshops – 3 on Coast in Bodega Bay, Timber Cove, & Sea Ranch and 2 inland and that these be held after the 4 month period to allow the public to digest and research the issues. Staff has had 5 years to do this and now it is our turn to get into the details.
c) Ask that the County form an Advisory Committee to the Coastal MAC (Municipal Advisory Committee) made up of a variety of citizens from throughout the County who have expertise in land use, ocean policy, conservation, affordable housing, fire safety, Agriculture issues and water quality. (For the original draft of our Local Coastal Plan there were at least 5 Technical Advisory Committees formed, each made up of 8-12 citizens with expertise in the above listed areas. No such committees have been formed for this current updated LCP.)

Thank you for taking action and sharing.