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?