GCC in the Media on Hollister Intervention

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Gaviota Coastal Trail Alliance Intervention Gets Attention

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Today the Gaviota Coastal Trail Alliance, of which Gaviota Coast Conservancy is a founding member, filed legal papers to intervene in the Hollister Ranch access case. Although the 1982 YMCA “Offer to Dedicate” concerns only a ¾ mile section of Hollister Ranch’s 8.5 miles of beach, it represents the first opportunity to bring the issue of Hollister Ranch access into the public discussion.

And what a discussion it has engendered! Started by Steve Lopez’ columns from the Los Angeles Times, like these:

 

Soon you can visit this pristine California beach — if you're a nearby landowner, on a guided tour or willing to paddle 2 miles

California's newest public beach is glorious, but you have to paddle to get there — and the trip is treacherous

Hollister Ranch access agreement is a wipeout and a sellout, hundreds of beach lovers scream

And now today's front page of the California section of the LA Times: 

Coastal advocates challenge deal that bars public from reaching Hollister Ranch by land

 

Judy Alexander of Santa Barbara, who said the Hollister Ranch settlement is concerning, calls on the Coastal Commission to fight for public beach access for all. (photo by David Royal / For the LA Times)

Here's local editor Jerry Roberts' take on it, in Newsmakers

In Courthouse News and Noozhawk

In addition to that and upcoming NPR coverage, we had a San Jose CBS reporter rent a kayak and try to paddle it himself, which caused a splash! 

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On July 13, the Coastal Commission held a hearing about the settlement and received nearly 1500 emails, nearly all opposing the settlement.

It turns out that the Coastal Commission and the California Coastal Conservancy never made any announcement about the proposed settlement, and as far as the minutes show, never announced any action on the proposed settlement. Nevertheless, their lawyers assert they have approved the settlement and cannot go back on that.

Which leads us to Judge Colleen K. Sterne’s courtroom. Back in May, she was presented with the settlement, but felt she could not rule on it until there was public notice. Judge Sterne set July 23 as the date by which anyone that wanted to intervene in the lawsuit - and to comment upon the Settlement Agreement - to file papers. And that’s what happened today.

The Gaviota Coastal Trail Alliance, including Gaviota Coast Conservancy, California Coastal Protection Network, Santa Barbara County Trails Council and Coastwalk/California Coastal Trail Association, filed papers to intervene and object to the Settlement Agreement. The proposed Settlement Agreement is found here.

This is a big undertaking, and the Alliance is asking beach lovers and coastal access champions from across the state to donate to this effort.

Supporters are encouraged to contribute to what is expected to be a protracted effort for public access to Hollister Ranch.

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SF CBS Report: Marc Chytilo and Tam Chase on Hollister Ranch Settlement

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Gaviota Coast Conservancy counsel Marc Chytilo and Santa Barbara kayak guide Tamlorn Chase were interviewed for San Francisco CBS Channel 5 regarding the Hollister Ranch Settlement and the difficulty of actually accessing the beach by sea as the settlement proposes. 

Together with a coalition of five organizations, Gaviota Coast Conservancy recently issued a group letter on the settlement to the CA Coastal Commission. The group invites supporters to donate to fuel the Hollister Ranch Coastal Trail Campaign

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Alert: Send comments on Hollister Ranch Settlement

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Due to recent coverage in the LA Times, locally and elsewhere, a public comment hearing has been scheduled for Friday, July 13 (at the Hilton in Scotts Valley, 6001 Madrona Drive, near Santa Cruz) by the California Coastal Commission, who is considering a settlement regarding public beach access at Hollister Ranch.

Please send your comments before 7/6 to hollister@coastal.ca.gov

So far, more than 600 have been sent, the vast majority opposing the settlement. Judge Sterne will accept motions from individuals or organizations arguing that they have legal standing to intervene in the settlement, in the last chance to legally disrupt the agreement.

The Gaviota Coast Conservancy has been monitoring the YMCA easement issue for over a decade, including the litigation initiated by the Hollister Ranch against the California Coastal Conservancy when they accepted the offer to dedicate after Santa Barbara County refused.

We are reviewing the proposed settlement.

GCC believes that beach access is a core principal of the California Coastal Act and is protected by the California Constitution and the public trust doctrine.

Hollister Ranch occupies an extraordinary location on the California coast, with substantial biological, cultural, agricultural and recreational resources and opportunities present. There are significant public values at stake at Hollister Ranch. We are reviewing the proposed settlement and are conferring with other community organizations and agencies that have shown an interest in this issue.

 

Please share your comments with us: https://www.gaviotacoastconservancy.org/hollister_ranch_survey


For more, see the recent coverage:

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Rockin’ and Rollin’ Through Gaviota

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Barney Brantingham of the Santa Barbara Independent joined Gaviota Coast Conservancy docents for a tour of the Gaviota Coast aboard a vintage railcar on November 5. The trip was a fundraiser for Gaviota Coast Conservancy. Here's Barney, on spending the day riding a vintage rail car along the Gaviota Coast.

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Gaviota Plan Stamped, Signed, and Delivered

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On Election Day, November 8, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted to approve the Gaviota Coast Plan, as documented here by the Santa Barbara Independent, in their story, Gaviota Plan Stamped, Signed, and Delivered. Gaviota Coast Conservancy was fundamentally involved, and is pleased with this result, after seven years with the GavPAC and 130 meetings... although it's really been about three decades of conversation. Thanks to Dorreen Farr (who championed this project in her district), Janet Wolf, and newly-elected US Congressmember Salud Carbajal!

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LA Times on Gaviota Coast Conservancy and community coastal preservation

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Gaviota Coast Conservancy past president Phil McKenna and legal counsel Marc Chytilo were interviewed and featured in the LA Times piece (on 8/11/16) by columnist Steve Lopez, "Between Hollister and Gaviota, fighting to keep rural beaches rural — and public". Here's Steve's blogpost, that discusses the role community groups like Gaviota Coast Conservancy play in guarding precious coastal resources, as a pdf. Marc and Phil took the the reporter with LA Times photographer Allen J. Schaben to the stunning Naples coast. "We want to be able to save this stretch of coast as a wild and rural area for our children and our children's children to explore," said Chytilo. "We want it to serve as a refuge for wildlife and nature... and serve as an example of how people can protect the character of their own community."

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Coastal Commission Goes Rogue

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California Coastal Commission Considers Firing its Executive Director, Dr. Charles Lester

Santa Barbara Development Illustrates Questionable Actions

Gaviota Coast Conservancy Board Member Phil McKenna wrote this Op Ed in today's Santa Barbara Independent: http://www.independent.com/news/2016/feb/02/coastal-commission-goes-rogue/

The California Coastal Commission has stood steadfast against inappropriate coastal development for nearly 44 years, while under near constant pressure from real estate interests. All the while, it has maintained a rock solid stance of support for protecting coastal resources and public access and recreational opportunities.

That could change if the Commission fires its Executive Director, Dr. Charles Lester, an action they will consider at their February 10 meeting in Morro Bay. We have found the Coastal Commission staff led by Dr. Lester to be fair and hard working. We have not always agreed with them, but we always felt we got an honest hearing. Losing Lester’s leadership, under ill-defined and suspicious circumstances, would be a blow to the reputation and integrity of the Commission which has been essential in defending our coastline. 

A hearing will be held Wednesday, February 10 at 10am in Morro Bay, to take public comments on the proposed firing of Dr. Lester. You can comment in person or via email: Email the Commission at StatusOfExecutiveDirector@coastal.ca.gov

There is a Santa Barbara connection to this issue that illuminates Dr. Lester’s integrity and leadership. Read on... it’s an interesting story.

In April 2014, the Gaviota Coast Conservancy and Santa Barbara Surfrider formally requested that the Coastal Commission review the County approval of the Paradiso del Mare project; a two estate development on the bluff east of Naples that would obliterate a prolific white tail kite nesting site, disturb one of only two harbor seal rookeries on the Santa Barbara South Coast, destroy longstanding public access, and directly facilitate a 10 lot subdivision on antiquated Naples lots.  

At the Commission hearing, a significant number of the public were denied the right to testify, while the applicant was given the opportunity to change the settlement at the meeting without the benefit of notifying the public or letting the public comment on the changes. It was truly OUTRAGEOUS. We were stunned.

Before the Commissioners voted, Dr. Lester stated that the action the Commission was taking was highly unusual. He recommended that the Commission take jurisdiction over the project and change it to address the myriad project inconsistencies with our County Coastal Plan. We thought this was excellent advice, but the Commission voted 7 to 4 to let the County’s approval stand without review.

There’s more.

During a pause in the voting one of the Commissioners who ultimately voted against reviewing the project, said on an open mic in regards to the impact of the impending Commission action’s on the local environmental community, “Blow their minds; let’s blow their f***ing minds.”   

Dr. Lester was the only person on the dais with the integrity and presence of mind to formulate a fair and legal path to the hearing of this issue. His insight and integrity were ignored.

We have sued the Commission for violating the Bagley Keene Open Meeting Law, failing to comply with the California Coastal Act and to provide the public with proper notice of project modifications, and improperly limiting public testimony.

The Commission needs to hear from you about its proposed firing of Dr. Lester.

Email the Commission at StatusOfExecutiveDirector@coastal.ca.gov referencing agenda items 8-10 of the Feb. 10 meeting with your support of Dr. Lester. In his year-end report to the Commission, Dr. Lester enumerated these accomplishments in his five year strategic plan.

  • New penalties for those who illegally deny beach access,
  • Assistance to communities in planning for sea level rise,
  • Updated numerous local community coastal plans,
  • Reduced process times for permits and appeals,
  • Created a public database on projects under consideration,
  • Treated beach access for low-income and minority residents as a civil rights issue.

The California Coastal Commission has championed environmental integrity and the public’s interest across the entire 1,100 miles of our coastline for over 40 years. The effort to fire Dr. Lester is a blatant attempt to move the Commission away from benefiting all Californians toward the interests of a narrow group of developers.

Please voice your concern!

  • Email the Commission.
  • Attend the hearing: February 10, 2016, 10am, Inn at Morro Bay, 60 State Park Road, Morro Bay. Public testimony will begin shortly after 10am and the Commission will deliberate the issue in closed doors after the close of public testimony, reconvening in public to announce the decision.
  • Visit http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/Main_Page for much more information, media coverage, and an offer to assist paying for transportation costs.

Please make your voice heard. Twenty years ago the Commission tried to fire Peter Douglas, the first and long-tenured Executive Director who preceded Dr. Lester. Three hundred citizens spoke out at that hearing and won the day.

We can do it again!

 

 

 

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