Coastal Commission to hear lagoon appeal


The California Coastal Commission on Aug. 8 will hear a request by two local environmental activists to revoke the coastal development permit it granted last year for California State Parks’ controversial Malibu Lagoon Restoration Project, which began de-watering last week. The revocation requests were filed in June by activists Marcia Hanscom and Robert “Roy” van de Hoek.

The request argued that State Parks intentionally withheld information from the Coastal Commission when it approved the coastal development permit for the project in October 2010. The matter is likely to end on Aug. 8, as Coastal Commission staff have recommended denying the revocation request.

“While so much life has been harmed and destroyed at Malibu Lagoon already, there are still several important outcomes we would seek if we were to be successful in having the permit pulled back and a timeout called by the Coastal Commission,” said van de Hoek in a press release.

Despite the fact that much of the work on the project has already been completed, van de Hoek and Hanscom, who are a couple, said in the press release that halting it could still achieve several aims. Those include halting the de-watering, re-installing a trail and three pedestrian bridges leading through the lagoon and holding a renewed community discussion about the project.

But the 12-member Coastal Commission would have to overrule its own staff in order to revoke the coastal development permit issued by a previous commission in 2010.

Hanscom and van de Hoek’s request alleged State Parks intentionally submitted inaccurate and incomplete information to the commission in several instances. Specifically, it claimed State Parks did not provide accurate information when it claimed summer was the only time to do the project in part due to the presence of steelhead trout in the lagoon. Hanscom told The Malibu Times in July that State Parks withheld surveys it performed that found no presence of steelhead trout in the lagoon in the last 10 to 20 years.

In an acerbic rebuttal, Coastal Commission staff categorically dismissed the charges contained in the revocation request in its staff report on the matter. Executive Director Charles Lester reviewed the request and found it “indisputably without merit,” according to the staff report.

“No evidence was presented showing that the applicant [California State Parks] submitted inaccurate, erroneous, or incomplete information of the sort alleged (i.e., information regarding project construction timing, tidewater goby critical habitat, public access, or dewatering), much less that they did so intentionally,” the staff report stated. The report also stated that Hanscom and van de Hoek’s request failed to prove that the commission would have acted differently even had the revocation request proved their allegations, and also found the request “was not filed with due diligence, as required by the Commission’s regulations.”

The Coastal Commission will hear the revocation request at its Wed., Aug. 8 regular meeting in Santa Cruz. The meeting will be held at the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors Chambers at 701 Ocean Street, at 9 a.m.