LCPA Stumbling Due to Definition of Ongoing Agriculture

The Coastal Commission conditionally certified most of Marin County's Local Coastal Amendments (LCPA) over a year ago. At that time, the directions from the former Coastal Commissioner were clear, return to the Commission with an updated Environmental Hazards Chapter in six-months. The intention was clear, the Commission Chair modified the definition of "ongoing agriculture" and moved to wrap up the eight-year amendment as soon as possible.

A protracted struggle between Marin County and the Coastal Commission staff over Commissioner Kinsey's ad-hoc modifications of the definition to "ongoing agriculture" developed shortly after.

The primary issue centers around the interpretations of what the former Commissioner intended when he moved to remove from the definition of "ongoing agriculture" the phrases existing legally established agricultural production and conversion of grazing area to crop production. 

The Coastal Commission staff is compelled to interpret the intentions of the Commission's actions in November and did so in July 2017 with their revised findings. Marin County staff adamantly opposes the Coastal Commission's interpretations of these findings, finding them unclear and difficult to implement. 

Since that time, the primary focus of Marin County has been to challenge the interpretations, further delaying work on Environmental Hazards. The County has failed to initiate meetings with local stakeholders and environmental groups to discuss Hazards revisions. The Coastal Commission and the County still have some areas of disagreement around the Hazards sections, and it will take significant time for a revised version to be resubmitted to the Board of Supervisors and Coastal Commission for review. 

Best Way Forward

The Coastal Commission must approve and certify the entire Marin LCP, including the Environmental Hazards sections before the new amendments will go into effect. However, the County has yet to submit revised Environmental Hazards sections. Until the entire LCP is approved and certified by the Coastal Commission, the 1981 Certified Marin County LCP remains in effect.

On May 2, 2018, the Coastal Commission's November 2016 conditional certification of the non-Environmental Hazards sections will expire. If this deadline is not met, the entire process to amend the LCP will restart.

Without County support for the Coastal Commission's July 2017 decision, EAC is concerned that the Marin LCP amendments may again be delayed.

In order for the process to move forward:

  1. The County needs to submit their approval of the non-Environmental Hazards Marin LCP amendments to the Coastal Commission's Executive Director to sign off on. 
  2. Per the Coastal Commission's directive, the County still has to revise and re-submit the Environmental Hazards sections, which were not certified by the Coastal Commission on November 2, 2016.