Thursday, May 15, 2014

Under attack, commission defends coastal program

Environmental groups are lambasting proposed changes to Marin’s Local Coastal Program outlined this month by California Coastal Commission staff. The Sierra Club and the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin claim that the plan, which will regulate development in the county’s coastal zone for the foreseeable future, represents a drastic shift from current land-use policies and could spark a rash of development on agriculturally zoned parcels. In response, commission staff published a report on Wednesday defusing many of those claims, and county planners accused critics of distorting the proposal by using a unit of measurement—square feet—that exaggerates the potential for development. The changes in regulations on agricultural lands are meant to strengthen the ability of farmers and ranchers to maintain their operations by making it easier to build an additional home for family members and housing for workers. (The coastal commission is holding a hearing on the plan on today.) The Sierra Club’s alert, sent last week, claims the new L.C.P. would allow “over 1 million square feet” of residential and commercial development on agriculturally zoned land. It says this development could take place “by right,” since permits for a farmhouse and one intergenerational home—what they call “bonus” housing—could not be appealed to the commission. Nor could up to 5,000 square feet of processing facilities for products made on-site, or up to 500 square feet for sales. According to the alert, that “goes way too far.”...more

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