Wastewater Treatment Facility Appeal Denied

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California Coastal Commission South Central Coast Area Office, Ventura, CA

The California Coastal Commission (CCC) Monday afternoon rolled unobstructed through an appeal of the City of Malibu’s Civic Center Wastewater Treatment Facility (CCWTF), after no representative for the appellant appeared to defend allegations that the facility as planned is potentially harmful to schoolchildren and local wetlands.

The project is now free to continue as planned, with a public hearing on the topic likely scheduled for a January City Council meeting. It is unclear whether those opposed to the project, including the absent appellant, Toscana Townhomes resident Steve Bobzin, will appear at that meeting to oppose the project.

The $39 million project, which achieved CCC approval this summer, will build a wastewater treatment facility to replace septic tanks in the Civic Center area of Malibu, eventually expanding to residential sewage treatment after possible further construction stages.

It took the CCC less than 10 minutes to deny the appeal with no discussion or commissioner statements, only saying the appeal “raises no substantial issue.”

The appeal, logged on Aug. 26 by Bobzin, cited six complaints against the City of Malibu, including concerns the CCWTF site is too close to local schools, homes and wetlands.

The proposed site sits at the base of Winter Canyon Road, about a quarter of a mile from Webster Elementary and Our Lady of Malibu schools.

Five of the six complaints were immediately thrown out by CCC staff. 

“These … claims do not raise any specific allegations of the approved development’s inconsistency with a specific policy or provision of the certified [Local Coastal Program] or public access and recreation policies of the Coastal act; therefore, these claims are not grounds for appeal,” CCC Senior Deputy Director Jack Ainsworth said.

The one claim that was considered by staff was that the City of Malibu failed to provide the required 100-foot buffer between a protected wetland habitat and the project. The buffer is required by state law protecting ESHA, environmentally sensitive habitat area.

“All portions of the proposed wastewater treatment facility will be located outside the 100-foot buffer, with the exception of a small portion of the existing 10- to 15-foot dirt driveway,” Ainsworth said, adding that the driveway will be widened to 25 feet and paved to comply with fire department standards.

“Commission staff concurs with the city’s determination that there are no feasible alternatives,” Ainsworth added.

The one public comment at the meeting came from Heal the Bay’s Science and Policy Director, Rita Kampalath, who urged the CCC to throw out the appeal.

“To be clear, a wastewater treatment facility in this area is more than just a project proposed by the city, it’s required by state law,” Kampalath said. 

“I would just like to emphasize that this is a solution that’s long been coming, absolutely necessary and that’s been well vetted amongst a diverse group of interests,” Kampalath added.

CCC to consider 20-year Broad Beach nourishment

The long-anticipated Broad Beach sand replenishment project will come before the CCC again on Friday, Oct. 9. 

The $20 million project, which has been in the works since 2010, seeks to replace the heavily eroded beach enjoyed by 121 property owners as well as the public.

After preliminary 2014 approval by the CCC, property owners withdrew the application during the December 2014 meeting in order to work with CCC staff to address concerns raised by commissioners.

The project is now proposed to include permanent retention of an existing, 4,150 ft. long, 12-15 ft. high rock revetment, relocation of approximately 1,800 linear feet of the revetment further landward and the implementation of a 20-year beach nourishment program depositing 300,000 cu. yds. of sand on the beach, with an additional 300,000 cu. yds. of sand every five years after, with periodic interim nourishments of up to 75,000 cu. yds. of sand. The project would also include dune habitat restoration.

“If successful, the [project] hopes to continuously maintain a sandy beach and dune field that will provide public beach access and restore beach and dune habitats. The beach replenishment and restoration program will also cover and thus mitigate the visual impacts of the rock revetment,” the staff report for Friday’s item read.

Staff is recommending conditional approval of the project.