Background: EAC continues to work with the Lawson family as they implement the many provisions of their coastal development permit (CDP), particularly the Tomales Wetlands-Dunes Complex Protection Restoration and Enhancement Plan (PREP). The PREP is already underway and we are working with the Coastal Commission and the Lawson family to ensure the protection of the wetlands, dunes, and wildlife of this exceptional coastal site.
However, in December 2015 Lawson’s Landing applied to the Coastal Commission for an amendment to the Coastal Development Permit that was issued in 2011. They sought approval for moving the planned new wastewater treatment plant and leach field from the approved location on the upper agricultural part of the property to a part of the property that the Coastal Commission has identified as an environmentally sensitive habitat area (ESHA), and is much closer to Tomales Bay and Lawson’s Landing’s drinking water wells. For these reasons Coastal Commission’s Executive Director denied their application.
Lawson’s Landing appealed this denial. In response we and many members of the public wrote letters asking the Coastal Commissioners to reject the appeal. On April 11, 2016 less than 48 hours before the matter was to be heard, Lawson’s Landing withdrew their appeal.
This was a wonderful victory because it means that the Commission intends to protect the environmentally sensitive habitat area at Lawson’s Landing and is committed to enforcing the protections included in the 2011 Coastal Development Permit (CDP). We expect another amendment to be filed in the near future since the 2011 permit requires the Lawsons to apply for final approval of the wastewater treatment system that was described in their permit. A functioning septic system is key to bringing Lawson’s Landing into compliance with the Coastal Act.
The Lawson family has now submitted an amendment, which will be heard by the Commission at its November 8th meeting in Bodega Bay.
The amendment proposes to place an administrative and retail complex and a wastewater system in a location (known as Area 6) that has been designated as an environmentally sensitive habitat area (ESHA) and is also the habitat of the endangered California red-legged frog, a federally and state-protected species. The July 2011 CDP requires that all illegal development in Area 6 be removed and the habitat restored, and the CDP expressly prohibits any future development in Area 6, apart from agriculture and improvements to the road that runs through it.
EAC will be at the November hearing arguing forcefully that the Commission should protect this site, respect the Coastal Act and enforce the 2011 Coastal Development Permit including the special conditions that are an integral part of it, by denying this amendment.