David Mendez

Coastal Commission asks for permit withdrawal in Redondo Beach

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by David Mendez

The California Coastal Commission has sent a letter to the City of Redondo Beach and to its estranged development partner CenterCal, requesting the two applicants withdraw their application for the Waterfront: Redondo Beach development.

The Coastal Commission had planned to hear the project at its upcoming August meeting, scheduled to take place in Redondo Beach, in conjunction with the Permit Streamlining Act, which states a permit must be reviewed within 270 days of when its application was deemed complete.

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However, recent litigation among the City, CenterCal and local activists regarding the project’s environmental impact report has disrupted the process.

In its letter to CenterCal and the City, the Coastal Commission cites a ruling by the Los Angeles Superior Court that determined the project’s environmental review to be deficient, and a subsequent order enjoining the applicants from pursuing the project until the EIR’s issues are remedied. These include actions to obtain a coastal development permit from the Coastal Commission, including testifying before the CCC.

“Given this ruling, and especially the judge’s order precluding the City, [CenterCal subsidiary Redondo Beach Waterfront] and CenterCal from pursuing the boat launch or Waterfront Project…it does not make sense for the Commission to consider any of the pending CDP (Coastal Development Permit) applications or appeals in August 2018,” Coastal Commission District Director Steve Hudson said in the commission’s letter.

While the letter acknowledges that a future hearing, scheduled for June 21, could change matters, Hudson said that it would be a logistical challenge for staff to provide a proper report between then and the July deadline for staff to publish its report prior to the hearing.

“In order to avoid having to hold a hearing without the participation of the applicants, and to avoid potentially applicable Permit Streamlining Act deadlines, Commission staff requests that the City and RBWF withdraw their current permit application” for the project, as well as a City application for a King Harbor boat ramp, Hudson wrote.

CenterCal CEO Fred Bruning said that the letter was “something that I anticipated,” saying a City-caused delay in presenting a boat ramp application set off a domino effect.

“Because of the delay in submitting the application, we didn’t know what to tell Coastal Commission staff, didn’t know what the position of the City would be, and it put us in a difficult spot,” Bruning said. “It’s a shame to see the City behaving in that fashion.”

Waterfront development activist Jim Light said that this letter has helped him and his allies “achieve some of [our] ends.”

“We’re pleased with this latest letter from Coastal… it’s looking more and more like the ‘mall’ is dead,” Light said, referring to a derisive name for CenterCal’s project. “The real question is, how do we move on? Until we have a way forward on defining a new plan… everything is in limbo. I don’t look at that as a win-win for anybody.”

According to Redondo Beach City Manager Joe Hoefgen, staff is evaluating its options to “do what’s best for the City,” and declined to comment further.

Still scheduled for the August Coastal Commission meeting is a hearing and possible approval of the Measure C zoning amendment to Redondo’s Local Coastal Plan.

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