California Beach Community Battles Legislation Targeted At Seawalls

STINSON BEACH (KPIX 5) — Californians who live along the beach argue that they should be allowed to replace or repair their seawalls.

But a proposal in Sacramento would impose major restrictions.

The bill’s backers emphasize environmental protection and public access. But some people at Stinson Beach see the issue differently.

What will happen to the homes along the coast with sea level rise has long been a debate with the coastal commission. But now the state legislature has picked it up and the folks who live here aren’t happy about it.

Peter Sandmann, general counsel for Stinson Beach’s Seadrift Association said, “It’s an absurd notion that they can do this.”

The folks living on Stinson Beach want the state to back off.

Proposed legislation would make it much more difficult for owners of homes built after January 1, 1977 to fortify their property along the coast. It would require a strict permitting process for construction of armoring structures along the shoreline. If they’re allowed at all.

“People have bought and built things along the beach and now the coastal commission wants to come in and retroactively say they can’t be protected,” Sandmann said.

If passed, for example, seawalls like the one along Stinson’s Seadrift neighborhood may not be able to be repaired if damaged, leaving homeowners behind it forever exposed to the sea.

It’s all in the name of natural shorelines.

The bill, backed by the California Coastal Commission, argues seawalls cause erosion and restrict natural habitat while also inhibiting public access and recreation along the shoreline.

Ron Rosano, a renter at Stinson Beach said, “I’m for preserving the beach and a 30-foot seawall or something like that would be a blight so I am certainly against that.”

But while it would keep the beach looking more natural, it wouldn’t leave much for homeowners when the tide rises.

More from Emily Turner
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