MARINA, Monterey County (CBS SF) — The California Coastal Commission has reached an agreement with Cemex to cease sand extraction at the Lapis sand mine, California’s last coastal sand mining operation, located just north of Marina in unincorporated Monterey County.
If the agreement is approved at a hearing before the commission in July, Cemex would cap annual sand extraction at 240,000 tons per year, down from an estimated 300,000 tons, for three years before ceasing operations on Dec. 31, 2020.
It would also encourage Cemex to sell the 400-acre property to a non-profit or non-governmental organization at a less-than-market price, with a deed restriction providing for public access.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom in a statement Tuesday morning called the proposal a milestone of significant and symbolic value.
“The terms offer a much faster resolution and termination of the beach-dredging operations than the alternative of protracted litigation and court hearings with uncertain outcomes,” Newsom said.
“I’m grateful to staff at the Coastal Commission and State Lands Commission for their partnership and resolute stance, which have delivered a good result for Monterey County’s environment and economy,” Newsom said.
The economic value of recreation on the southern beaches of Monterey Bay is estimated at $13 million annually. Those beaches are threatened by coastal erosion, and state officials say that the Lapis mine exacerbates that erosion.
According to Newsom’s office, recent scientific research has indicated that material mined from the dredge pond at the facility is replenished by sand from public land.
Cemex officials countered that assertion in a statement issued this afternoon, saying that their analysis indicates that “the causes of erosion along Monterey Bay are numerous and complex. Claims that attribute erosion to the Lapis operation oversimplify the issue.”
They did, however, confirm that they’ve agreed to phase out the Lapis sand plant operation in the coming years. It has been in operation since the early 1900s.
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