Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday, March 30th, Iron Rangers Appeal


At a meeting on April 15th in San Rafael, the California Coastal Commission will be told by the California State Parks (CSP) that new technology, active monitoring, and site mitigation will increase access to the Sonoma coast and improve protection of its resources.  Item 17A on the Agenda for Wednesday, April 15th,  states:

Appeal No. A-2-SON-13-0219 (California Department of Parks and Recreation, Sonoma Co.)
Appeal by California Dept. of Parks and Recreation of Sonoma County decision denying coastal permit for installation of signs and self-pay fee collection devices ('iron rangers') for charging new fees for parking at 14 locations across 35 miles of Sonoma County coast (at Stump Beach in Salt Point State Park, Russian Gulch, Goat Rock - Blind Beach, Goat Rock - South Lot, Goat Rock - North Lot, Goat Rock - Arched Rock, Shell Beach, Portuguese Beach, Schoolhouse Beach, Salmon Creek - North Lot, Salmon Creek - South Lot (Bean Avenue), Campbell Cove, Bodega Head - Upper Lot, and Bodega Head - Lower Lot), Sonoma County. (EL-SF).

In a letter to the Commission, the Department indicates:

"CSP will demonstrate pay station installation will not result in damage to coastal resources, and will actually enhance public access to the coastline within Sonoma County, consistent with both the Coastal Act and the LCP. CSP will also demonstrate that the proposal retains affordable, low cost recreation, as well as free recreation, and that there is no public safety or environmental impacts associated with the proposal that are not present now, or cannot be reconciled with active management and monitoring as proposed. " 

How will CSP accomplish this?

"In the short time since CSP filed its original application, the available technology now employed has rapidly evolved and improved. Whereas the traditional fee collection stations were limited to a heavy metal cylinder planted in the ground, CSP now installs electronic self-pay stations or Automated Pay Parking Machines (APPM) at many of its busier parks, even in remote areas with limited infrastructure. APPMs are solar powered units which have Wi-Fi connectivity to allow for the purchase of day use access through the use of cash, debit, credit, and Pay Pass options. They are fully programmable, and can be modified to meet daily needs, allow for retrieval of data, and thus have the potential to provide for a more flexible and efficient rate schedule. Users can add time using their smart phones in locations where cell phone service is available, and CSP can alternate rate schedules to ensure maximum access is promoted."

The appeal of Sonoma County's denial of CSP's original proposal now hinges on CSP convincing the Commission that "substantial issues" exist in the appeal which require that they hear it.  The support of three of the twelve Commission members are necessary to force a vote of the Commission on whether to have a hearing on the appeal.  Unless a majority of the Commission present finds that the appeal raises no substantial issue, the Commission moves to the de novo stage of the appeal hearing.   If the Commission finds that the appeal does not raise a substantial issue, then the local government's action is final, and there is no de novo phase of the appeal hearing.  

The de novo stage of the appeal hearing may occur at the same Commission meeting.   Anyone may testify on the merits of the merits of the proposal during the de novo phase.  People wishing to testify on this matter may appear at the hearing, or may present their concerns by letter to the Commission on or before the hearing date.

The following information is provided by the California Coastal Commission, in a Public Hearing Notice, dated Mach 27 2015.

A copy of the staff report on this matter is available on the Coastal Commission's website at Alternatively, you may request a paper copy of the report from Ethan Lavine, Coastal Program Analyst, at the North Central Coast District Office, 45 Fremont Street, Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94105-2219.

If you wish to submit written materials for review by the Commission, please observe the following suggestions: 

We request that you submit your materials to the Commission staff the week before the scheduled Commission meeting (staff will then distribute your materials to the Commission). 
Mark the agenda number of your item, the application number, your name and your position of support or opposition to the project on the upper right hand corner of the first page of your submission. If you do not know the agenda number, contact Ethan Lavine, Coastal Program Analyst, at the North Central Coast District Office, 45 Fremont Street, Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94105-2219.

If you wish, you may obtain a current list of Commissioners’ names and addresses from any of the Commission’s offices and mail the materials directly to the Commissioners. If you wish to submit materials directly to Commissioners, we request that you mail the materials so that the Commissioners receive the materials no later than Thursday of the week before the Commission meeting. Please mail the same materials to all Commissioners, alternates for Commissioners, and the three non-voting members on the Commission with a copy to Ethan Lavine, Coastal Program Analyst, at the North Central Coast District Office, 45 Fremont Street, Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94105-2219.

You are requested to summarize the reasons for your position in no more than two or three pages, if possible. You may attach as many exhibits as you feel are necessary. 

Please note: While you are not prohibited from doing so, you are discouraged from submitting written materials to the Commission on the day of the hearing, unless they are visual aids, as it is more difficult for the Commission to carefully consider late materials. The Commission requests that if you submit written copies of comments to the Commission on the day of the hearing, that you provide 20 copies. 

Oral testimony at the substantial issue stage is limited to 3 minutes combined total per side to address the question of substantial issue. Oral testimony at the de novo stage may be limited to 5 minutes or less for each speaker depending on the number of persons wishing to be heard. 

No one can predict how quickly the Commission will complete agenda items or how many will be postponed to a later date. The Commission begins each meeting session at the time listed and considers each item in order, except in extraordinary circumstances. Staff at the appropriate Commission office can give you more information prior to the hearing date. 

Questions regarding the report or the hearing should be directed to Ethan Lavine, Coastal Program Analyst, at the North Central Coast District Office, 45 Fremont Street, Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94105-2219.