“I urge the County to go back to the drawing board to rewrite the draft with the input from citizen advisory committees made up of local concerned citizens, scientist & experts, as they did with the existing LCP, to produce a draft that includes current issues facing our Coast. Only then will it be possible to offer meaningful comment and ensure that the intent of the existing LCP and the unique character of the Sonoma Coast is preserved. This effort should not be rushed through, even if the timeline has to be significantly extended.”
Dear Ms. Condon and Supervisors:
Thank you for your service to Sonoma County and for reading this letter.
I am a 45-year resident of Jenner and am very concerned about the Proposed Local Coastal Plan Update.
The updated draft is not well organized. It is difficult to find areas I am concerned about, since there is an incomplete Table of Contents and no Index. I don’t see definitions of many terms in the Glossary. Much of the science is outdated. There are no goals or objectives which address Climate Change or Environmental Justice concerns. Our community, local environmental non-profits, Coastal Tribes, and State Parks—that manages a significant portion of our Coastline—apparently were not involved in drafting the document.
Here are some of my more specific areas of concern.
• Massive impact of tourism, which is only going to grow. “Increasing the number of parking places” is not a good enough idea. Cars are parked all over the place already and those spaces are becoming the new parking. At what point should access have to give way to resource protection, and commercial interests and their accompanying degradation to the beauty we are talking about valuing? The attempt to accommodate everyone does no good in the long run. Environmental exhaustion has already taken place. Road congestion is overwhelming; safety is compromised by the party atmosphere. The infrastructure is suffering. Shuttles will have to be part of our future, or simply closing the Coast at Valley Ford or Monte Rio during the busiest weekends. One more comment with regard to tourism: can the County please stop marketing the Coast (in fact some discouragement would be appropriate!) and direct that tourist income to safety and emergency services?
• Housing stock has been eaten up by the movement by individuals as well as investors to to cash in on real estate through illegal and unregulated short-term rentals (which often include flagrant and unenforced zoning violations). What is to prevent the new easy-to-create (at least inland) ADUs from being converted to short-term rentals rather than caregiver/workforce/fixed-income/long-term housing?
• Pesticides should be banned in the Coastal Zone, as they have been in Malibu.
• Salmon aquaculture should not be permitted.
• Light pollution must not be permitted, now that it can be accurately measured.
• Protection for forests: The timber protection ordinance that is currently in the works must be moved along, and the County be responsible for THPs rather than CalFire. It should be remembered that coastal trees take longer to grow and are thus an even more valuable resource, and that forested areas must be precluded from later conversion.
• Please attend to the information regarding wetlands offered by Mr. Peter Warner; there are no vernal pools on the Coast but there are several other types of wetlands.
• I am concerned that there is not protection for future ESHAs, though glad to see that potential ESHAs are now ESHAs.
• Older housing should not be permitted to be torn down and replaced by mansion-type houses; historic districts are a possible way to avoid this.
• Regulation and enforcement of wine-associated and other commercial interests should be very strong and not allow piece-mealing by consultants in the pay of affluent developers to get around County policies. The wine industry has been hungrily pressuring the Coastal area for some time now, and has no problem facing enormous financial penalties for ignoring the rules and doing whatever they want. Do we really need more inebriated tourists on Highway 1? It seems that despite the difficulty of obtaining commercial permits for cultivation as well as tasting rooms/event centers in the Coastal zone, it is still happening.
• “Subject to staff discretion” appended to almost every issue is far too arbitrary and not an adequate or perhaps trustworthy solution as we go ahead.
I urge the County to go back to the drawing board to rewrite the draft with the input from citizen advisory committees made up of local concerned citizens, scientist & experts, as they did with the existing LCP, to produce a draft that includes current issues facing our Coast. Only then will it be possible to offer meaningful comment and ensure that the intent of the existing LCP and the unique character of the Sonoma Coast is preserved. This effort should not be rushed through, even if the timeline has to be significantly extended.
Thank you for your consideration and for the good start you have made on this. Do please see that the process has to be slowed down!