Draft Local Coastal Plan: What you need to know


In the current version of the Draft Local Coastal Plan proposed by the Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department (Permit Sonoma), did you know

that . . .

  • Endangered Species Habitat Area (ESHA) zones have been reduced from the original three to only one;
  • Marine Protection Areas (MPA) have been entirely eliminated;
  • Tourism — and related impacts, already beyond ecological and infrastructural carrying capacities — is actively promoted through permitting of new roads, non-permanent residential housing, and other commercial enterprises that will further strain overburdened local facilities and environments;
  • With vacation rentals already comprising 53% of coastal zone housing, Permit Sonoma is planning and promoting additional residences for this purpose, while local residents and employees cannot find or afford housing;
  • References to studies and other scientific data are outdated (to 2005-2008), especially in light of the ready availability of more recent scientific and social data that MUST inform this process;
  • Permit Sonoma has not consulted or requested participation from public agencies, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), local non-profits and land managers (e.g., the University of California, The Wildlands Conservancy, Sonoma Land Trust), and other agencies, academic institutions, and organizations that have conducted highly relevant research on climate change, impacts on coastal ecology and wildlife, effects of climate and oceanic process on marine biology, et al.;
  • Once approved by Permit Sonoma and the County Board of Supervisors, changes to zoning designations will not subject to appeals to the California Coastal Commission;
  • The current Draft LCP usurps authority for “discretionary” permitting, which bypasses public notice of and participation in review of such permitting (under the California Environmental Quality Act and other regulatory standards);
  • While the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors retains legal authority to review timber harvest plans and otherwise regulate timber extraction in the county, the Draft LCP defers local authority to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection through a streamlined permitting process (the Timber Regulation and Forest Restoration Program) that over-rides many of the environmental safeguards in the California Environmental Quality Act? 

If you answer “No” about any of these proposals and their provisions or lack thereof, please consider that your participation is critical towards creating a truly democratic response to poor planning.  These are but a few of the many oversights, omissions, and inconsistencies in the current Draft LCP — a policy document that, in its current content, is egregiously inadequate and misinformed towards providing for the essentials of a healthy coastal environment and its human community, that is, all of us!  This is not so much a planning document as a rubber stamp of approval for further development, exploitation and the continuing deterioration of the coastal environment.

Please write a letter to your supervisor and ask for these issues to be addressed. 

Susan Gorin, 1st District: Susan.Gorin@sonoma-county.org

David Rabbitt, 2nd District: David.Rabbitt@sonoma-county.org

Shirley Zane, 3rd District: Shirlee.Zane@sonoma-county.org

James Gore, 4th District: James.Gore@sonoma-county.org

Lynda Hopkins, 5th District: Lynda.Hopkins@sonoma-county.org