Gregory Canyon and the Coastal Commission

The proposed Gregory Canyon landfill is located on the San Luis Rey River, upstream from the Coastal Zone. The river supports endangered species and is sited close enough to the City of Oceanside’s Groundwater Purification Facility to cause concern. The river has been a critical component of the steelhead recovery efforts.

The Coastal Zone Management Act considered that projects outside of the Coastal Zone could potentially impact the Coastal Zone., putting projects like the Gregory Canyon Landfill under the purview of the Commission. The Coastal Commission analysis and review of this project will provide additional information for decision makers and the public. It will cast a wider net for potential impacts thus adding valuable information to the discussion.

In 1976, President Nixon signed the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), which gives coastal states the authority to review federally permitted projects that could affect coastal resources, even if they are not located on the coast itself. The premise, as we have seen from numerous oil spills, is that environmental destruction doesn’t respect jurisdictional boundaries, and coastal resources are deserving of additional protections.

The landfill, an enormously controversial project the public has been fighting for decades because of its potential harm to municipal water supplies and cultural resources, could pollute the San Luis Rey River and kill endangered steelhead trout. It requires federal permits, thus making it eligible for Coastal Commission review under federal law.

However, the Commission must first get approval from the Office of Coastal Management (OCM). Last month, at the request of the City of Oceanside, the Pala Indian Tribe, and numerous community groups, the Commission sent a letter to OCM, requesting permission to do so. This is the process established by law.

But a fundamental question still needs to be answered. Does San Diego even need another landfill, when City and County estimates point to excess capacity due to successful recycling efforts?

King Tides 2015

The morning of Thanksgiving Day was a “King Tide” day. King Tide is a colloquial term for an unusually high tide. These occur when the sun and moon are aligned, the moon is closest to the earth, and the earth is closest to the sun. All three factors intensify the gravitational pull that makes the tides.

I have been attending meetings of the Del Mar Sea Level Rise Technical Advisory Committee, which is working on an LCP Amendment to address sea level rise. Encinitas has a City Council Subcommittee, slowly getting started on planning an LCP amendment for the same purpose. I thought some pictures at King Tide might help people visualize the impact of sea level rise on our coastal lagoons.

That is the stated purpose of the King Tides Initiative – to show a preview of what the “normal” high tides will look like as sea level creep up.

I decided to go out for a tour and get some pictures. At about the peak of high tide, I visited two coastal lagoons near me: the San Elijo Lagoon in Encinitas and the San Dieguito Lagoon in Del Mar. You can see the results on my Flickr page or the San Diego King Tide Flickr Group.

The picture above is the Boardwalk at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. It was the subject of a controversy last March. The Commission denied a request for a permit amendment to leave the boardwalk in place. The original plan had been to remove it completely. The issue was resolved by a compromise – some of it will be removed, but the part shown above will remain (until nature has the final say, with another foot of sea level rise). Here is a view of the same section at a “normal” tide level.

This year, the King Tides are getting an extra boost. Three factors are increasing the heights of the highest tides: thermal warming of the oceans due to climate change, more thermal warming from the big pool of warmer water off the California coast, and prevailing winds pushing water up against our coast. The results show up on tide gauges. Here is a clip from the NOAA tide guage at La Jolla for November 26.
The blue line is predicted sea level, the red line is observed level, and the purple line shows the excess of actual over predicted. It shows that the actual levels are running almost a foot above what was predicted based on historical tide records.

The first King Tides in the 2015-2016 season were on November 24th to 26th. There are two more coming: December 22nd to 23rd, and January 21st and 22nd, 2016. Check out the International and California King Tides Initiative web sites, and plan to get some pictures in your area.

The Edge is Back!

The projects known as “The Edge” are a collection of six Coastal Development Permit applications. They have a long history at the Commission. The permit applications were originally submitted in 2007/2008. Since that time, the applications have been withdrawn and re-submitted twice by the applicants in order to allow more time to resolve outstanding issues that were identified during staff analysis of the proposed projects. The Commission denied the permits in June of 2011. Litigation ensued. In 2014, the permits were remanded to the Commission. Revised versions were filed in August of 2014. The revised permits were considered at the May 2015 Commission hearings. That hearing was continued to allow the applicants to further revise their proposals for consistency with the updated LCP for the Santa Monica Mountains. The revised applications are now scheduled for December 10, 2015 as Items Thursday 17a to f.

The staff report for the December hearing is available at The May 2015 staff report is at and the June 2011 staff report is at

The Sierra Club has consistently opposed the proposed development as being inconsistent with the LCP and inappropriate for this sensitive area. The Santa Monica Mountains Task Force ( is the lead entity for the Sierra Club.

Banning Ranch Hearing in January

The Banning Ranch hearing that was continued from the November hearings will be on the Coastal Commission agenda in January.  The hearing location has been published.  It will be at the County Board of Supervisors Chambers,  1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego 92101.

This is a great location to visit, right on the bay and close to downtown San Diego.  The County Supervisors recently buried the extensive parking lots that formerly surrounded the building, and replaced them with a very nice public park.

It is easy to get to by public transit in various forms.  It is about a third of a mile from the Santa Fe depot, less than a block from a Green Line trolley stop, and a two-mile bus ride from the airport.


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