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Press Release: Local Coastal Plan Comments submitted by Conservation Action

(Actual Full Text Comment Letter Here: SCCA Comments_LCP_9.30.2015 )

 Keep Our Beaches Free!

10/8/2015, Santa Rosa, CA- In a September 30 comment letter to the Sonoma County Planning Department, Sonoma County’s largest environmental organization, Sonoma County Conservation Action (SCCA), expressed concerns regarding Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department’s Draft Update for the Sonoma County Local Coastal Plan (LCP). This letter prompted a public comment.

Rather than further enhancing the protection of Sonoma County’s fragile but extraordinarily beautiful and biological rich coastal zone, the draft update would in its present form allow for development that flies in the face of past successful initiatives in Sonoma County to protect the Sonoma coast.

“We’re working to avoid the Napafication of the Coast,” said Dennis Rosatti, Executive Director of Conservation Action. “We’ve got something special in Sonoma County and must work hard to protect our public investment in protected coastal lands, and look out for the existing small businesses that thrive off the coastal experience. The Sonoma Coast is too important for us to risk it being overrun with wineries and event centers.”

Among Conservation Action’s specific concerns with the draft plan are the following:

  • The plan consistently incorporates language from the County General Plan 2020 not suited to protecting the unique coastal zone ecology mandated by the Coastal Act.  An allowance of large scale vineyard development and the inevitable amenities that accompany it is inappropriate agricultural policy for the  coast. Rather it is incumbent that the LCP incorporate only language that is consistent with the gold standards set forth in the Coastal Act.
  • To the limited extent vineyards are allowed in the coastal zone, they should strictly be limited to slopes defined in VESCO (Vineyard Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance).  The plan should also encompass an outright ban on the conversions of a) all Class I, II, and III timberland classifications; and, b) of all oak woodland and/or mixed hardwood forests.
  • The plan fails to address the potential proliferation of onshore support services for offshore energy development. It is essential that the plan set very high standards for permitting such onshore services, given the immense impacts they would likely have on harbors, fisheries, aquatic ecology and the coast’s magnificent view shed.
  • The plan fails to adequately protect water resources from new development.  It needs regulation of setbacks from streams, and to require new development proposals to demonstrate that their long term water supply will have no adverse impacts on surrounding surface or groundwater supplies.
  • The plan fails to limit the potential proliferation of housing in the coastal zone, or address the lack of utilities, water supply, road upkeep, and fire and safety services in the Coastal Zone.