Coastal Commission Denies Revocation of Malibu Lagoon Permit

“There’s not a single shred of evidence that would have to be proven for us to entertain revocation,” California Coastal Commissioner Jana Zimmer said.

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — The California Coastal Commission denied a request for revocation of a permit for the Malibu Lagoon Restoration and Enhancement Project Wednesday in Santa Cruz.

In a unanimous vote following an hour long hearing, the commission shot down the revocation request from Marcia Hanscom of the Wetlands Defense Fund and Roy van de Hoek of CLEAN, who made the drive from Southern California.

“Apart from the fact there is not a single shred of evidence that’s been presented that would be needed to support the contentions that would have to be proven for us to even entertain revocation. I’m especially concerned with and supportive of the finding that this petitioner failed to exercise due diligence in bringing this request to us,” Commissioner Jana Zimmer said.

Commissioner Richard Bloom, who also sits on the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission and recused himself in a 2010 vote on the project's permit, commended Coastal Commission for analyzing the revocation request.

"At some point things have to end. I hope that no further challenges will be filed. It’s time to put things to rest and complete this project," Bloom said.

Under state law, a permit can be revoked if the application for the permit included inaccurate, erroneous or incomplete information.

During public comment, Hanscom took aim at the process for the project’s environmental impact report, which was approved by former State Parks Director Ruth Coleman.

“The environmental impact report was never approved, never had a hearing, never had public comment,” Hanscom said.

Hanscom said a public records request showed that California State Parks Department and its governing body, the State Park and Recreation Commission, never held a public hearing on the project's environmental impact report.

Van de Hoek highlighted the discovery of the South Coast Marsh Vole, a sensitive species by putting up several photos.

“In that assessment, in the EIR that was never certified, there were detailed reports on birds. There were reports on flora that was thorough, there was a report that was on insects … There was a 30-page report on fishes,” van de Hoek said.

He said there was no survey of mammals.

“It turns out there is mammal life there,” van de Hoek said.

He said the bridges, which have since been removed, aided the mammals and birds at the lagoon.

“It was a wildlife corridor and birds nest under the bridges,” van de Hoek said.

Showed a photo of a heron eating a vole at the lagoon.

“The vole is not there now, as you can see,” he said.

Van de Hoek ended his comments by reading a document and a shout out of “Save the Lagoon.”

According to David Wiseman, an attorney for California State Parks, the State Parks Commission is not required to approve project specific EIR that is consistent with general plan.

“It was not timely and not filed with due diligence,” Wiseman said. “These types of revocation requests are really broad for the intention of causing delay."

Wiseman also asked the commission to consider granting a request from State Parks to recoup attorneys fees and other costs to staff.

Hope Schmeltzer, chief counsel for the California Coastal Commission, said the commission did not have the power to grant that type of request.

After the hearing, Hanscom said she still plans to monitor the project and advocate for any habitat that has not been disturbed.

"We might decide to challenge this denial of revocation. We might decide to go to federal court," Hanscom said, adding that she will determine the best use of her time and resources in the coming weeks.

She said the hearing's location in Santa Cruz prevented several Malibu surfers and activists from attending.

Craig Sap, District Supervisor for the California State Parks Los Angeles District, attended the hearing and said he was pleased with the decision.

“The commission vote solidifies our position that this project will repair decades of damage to the wetlands at the lagoon and re-establish natural processes that support cleaner water and healthier wildlife,” Sap said.

He added that he hopes there are no further challenges to the project.

"It is an expense. It is an expense on State Parks," Sap said. "... They should be working with state parks, not against State Parks."

Shelley Luce, executive director of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, said she attended the hearing to show support for State Parks and to let the commission know "about the thoroughness of the work that we've done and the incredibly high level of protection and the resources that we've accomplished during the project."

"I'm not at all surprised at the outcome. It's clear that the few who oppose this project have reached a level of desperation where they are kind of throwing things out there to see what sticks and everybody knows it," Luce said.

Hans Laetz August 08, 2012 at 08:42 PM
"Not showing due diligence" = wasting the taxpayers' money and abusing the system. And making false claims. And failing to demonstrate - again - that there is even "a shred of evidence" that a wrong is being perpetrated. As an environmental activist, I am sickened by this "green" group.misusing the system and costing the people great expense and delay in the name of environmentalism. This has thoroughly discredited the Ballona Institute and its umbrella of fake Astroturf groups: Coastal Law Enforcement Network (CLEAN -- that's an obvious inside joke), Access For All, Wetlands Action Network, etc. These groups failed to file their state tax documents for charities, hiding instead behind a front group and evading filing reports on their expenditures and income. The front group went broke, so they found a new one.
Hans Laetz August 08, 2012 at 08:45 PM
They got caught with their hands inside the till on the coastal access issue -- accepting $250,000 from a Malibu resident in exchange for operating a beach accessway for the Coastal Commission, then pocketing it in a secret deal to keep the accessway closed. "We wandered off the reservation," they explained. Riiiight. They got caught. Lots of good, smart people in Malibu swallowed their line of hokum and donated their support or money. Those people had valid concerns -- but let these grifters with their "Donate Now" Internet campaign take the lead. I am an environmentalist and activist in Malibu. I've worked damn hard for no pay -- unlike the Ballona Institute people -- and it infuriates me to see these people misuse the legal system, abuse the public servants they disagree with, and twist their peculiar interpretations of "science" into a P-R fundraising campaign. And they drop the Court of Appeal suit because "we see no chance of success in this venue." What gall. In what venue do they imagine success? Malibu residents would be well served taking everything these Playa del Rey "experts" say with a healthy dose of skepticism. The Coastal Commission got it exactly right. This cost you and me, the taxpayers, hundreds of thousands of dollars in court costs. I'm sickened by the whole thing.
Cece Stein August 09, 2012 at 01:18 AM
What is so unbelievably pathetic is after getting her hand(s) slapped for the the frivolous nature of this action that was heard today, it appears it has fallen on deaf ears ( not to mention blindness - overlooking SO MANY facts and data - and including those as violation/reasons for filing the revocation ) - this statement takes the case: "We might decide to challenge this denial of revocation. We might decide to go to federal court," Hanscom said, adding that she will determine the best use of her time and resources in the coming weeks. Looks like Wetlands Defense Fund has money burning a hole in their pocket ( thanks to those poor Colony residents that fell for this crap ) - next check they write will be for reimbursement of attorneys ( yes multiple ) fees for the agencies that will prove them wrong yet again. Shameful. **P.s. - EXCELLENT REPORTING JESSICA - great article! Steve and I were with Mark and Suzanne on site watching the hearing. Glad you got the "up close and personal" out so fast - we were all dying to know!
David Gottlieb August 09, 2012 at 02:27 AM
It is like Marcia and Roy represent the tea party or "wing nut" excuses for environmental support. All the while-- at previous hearings every responsible regional and local conservation and environmental group supported (and supports) the lagoon restoration plan! GO COASTAL COMMISSION!
Steve Littlejohn August 09, 2012 at 01:57 PM
All you pro bulldozing money grubbers, just go down to the lagoon and see the result of your twisted thinking. Hans, there were many experts that were aghast at what was going to come down. And now it has. Hans, go there and just feel what has happened. That is if you have the ability to feel anything. And Cese, where do you get your facts about all those rich folks in the Colony funding anything? Stop spouting off your ignorance.
Hans Laetz August 09, 2012 at 02:51 PM
I feel what's happening: a life-saving unclogging of the arteries. Long live the Malibu Lagoon. But you do raise a good point, Steve. It would be very newsworthy to see a full accounting of who put up the funding for the obstructionists, how much was paid to their "scientific experts" who were laughed out of court and utterly rejected at the Coastal Commission. And if course, it would be very telling to see how much went to "overhead and staff support" at the good old' Ballona Institute. Fat chance of that happening. No one likes to see bulldozers rip out trees or beloved landmarks. I don't. But no one loves open heart surgery, either. And some people just swear by it....
Cece Stein August 09, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Malibu is blessed to have such an honorable, intelligent, hard working, selfless crusader for civic duty and environmental causes as we have with Hans Laetz. In your ignorance, you have judged a man who feels greatly about many things. Steve and I were at the lagoon yesterday and it felt so awesome to see the remnants of the Cal Trans fill being removed and see the original native wetlands vegetation layer that was buried in the 30's. Thank goodness for educated wildlife loving visionaries who cared enough about one of the last remaining wetlands in California to reverse what the EPA deemed as "severely impaired". We can't reveal our sources, but a specific source has attended a few of the fundraiser meetings in a prominent opposition members home in the Colony. Marcia made her pitch. A quote that stood out with our source was "that with enough money, we can CRUSH this project" and the ink began flowing, checks were cashed. To insinuate that the Colony did NOT contribute to the Wetlands Defense Fund is not just ignorant, but typical of the PR spin of disinformation from the opposition. We the taxpayers, will have to keep the ink flowing to pay for every frivolous complaint Wetlands Defense Fund files "in the name of the environment" when in reality, they are filing in the name of EGO. Enough said.
Carol Elliott August 09, 2012 at 04:30 PM
David your ignorance is showing. I personally supported the lagoon restoration plan and i am also a proud member of the tea party. Tea party members like me want limited and responsible government in no way are Marcia and Roy representative of tea party ideals.
Suzanne Goode August 09, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Steve: The project is not finished yet. Would you judge the aesthetics of a building by looking at the excavation for the foundation?
John Davis August 09, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Suzanne, I do not view this project as an unfinished building. I view it as a crime in progress. The State Parks Commission did not certify the EIR in accordance with the law, PRC 5002.2. The Coastal Commission can not change this fact. And, the Coastal Commission does not have the final word, the people do. The General Planning Handbook for California State Parks from the Planning Division dated April 2010 specifies the precision under which the Agency is to implement CEQA. There are no provisions for "adopting" and EIR. It must be certified by a legislative body in accordance with the Planning document, CEQA, and the Bagley Keene Act. Note that the EIR only has minutes for scoping, no hearings for the Draft EIR, no hearings for the FEIR, and no opportunity for the public to fully participate in the process. An untruthful statement by a State Parks attorney cannot change any of the legal failures the Agency must be held responsible for. If your opinion is that only an "adoption" of an FEIR is necessary without the input of the people, please explain the law(s) that support this Agency claim. Also, your email description of the public which do not share your opinion of the project should not be called "opponents". Your status as an agent of the State should not be used for such a purpose. The State does not have opponents. It has stakeholders. John Davis
Tom Facts August 09, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Points are well taken Hans, but regarding your comment below "hands in the till" ; People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones..... ......Everyone in the City knows you extorted $100,000 from the Trancas Developers to drop your litigation that many would say was just as ridiculous as Hanscom's #HansInTheTill
Tom Facts August 09, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Points are well taken Hans, but regarding your comment below "hands in the till" ; People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones..... ......Everyone in the City knows you extorted $100,000 from the Trancas Developers to drop your litigation that many would say was just as ridiculous as Hanscom's #HansInTheTill
Greta Johnson August 09, 2012 at 07:04 PM
I've read with interest this article and comments. No wonder I was told by other Wetlands Defense Fund activists in Santa Cruz that Marcia and Roy are very courageous for standing up against lies and continued attacks on their character. I heard them speak yesterday and became curious. I would like to address this false statement: "at previous hearings every responsible regional and local conservation and environmental group supported (and supports) the lagoon restoration plan!" I watched some videos of Coastal Commission and Malibu City Council hearings. I see evidence of this: 1. San Fernando Valley Audubon Society and Pasadena Audubon Society submitted letters of opposition in October. 2010 - they were read into the record at the Coastal Commission hearing. 2. Los Angeles Audubon Society - with a board of directors of mostly scientists - studied the issue again this year and voted to withdraw their support of the plan. 3. Environmental Priorities Network is opposed to the plan. 4. EarthSave Los Angeles is opposed to the plan. 5. Sea Save Foundation is opposed to the plan. Tom Hayden, who has been a hero to many of us in Santa Cruz, for championing endangered species, forests and coastal protection when he was a state senator, is opposed to the plan. So is LA County Democratic Party. And City of Malibu. I'm informed that Mr. Gottlieb's group received more than $1 million to oversee the EIR. Why didn't they get the right approval?
Hans Laetz August 09, 2012 at 07:06 PM
First, section 5002 of the Cal Pub Res Code does not address EIRs at all, that is done in the CEQA codes starting at section 21000. Nothing in section 5002 requires anything more than a General Plan, and it specifically allows work to maintain or repair a state park to preserve the existing use. Second, like it or not, CEQA does not require hearings. All it requires is an opportunity for public comment. As the EIR notes, this was done. You may have wanted a hearing, and if you had demanded one back in 2004, you probably would have gotten one. No one did. Third, you are correct that the term "opponents" may not be the best one to categorize the opposition, who had filed suit, set up demonsatns, and did everything they could to oppose the lagoon restoration project. The better terms would have been "obstructionists," "tax money wasters" and, in some isolated cases, "spoiled children yelling at City Hall."
Hans Laetz August 09, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Oh, another anonymous internet coward with another charge. Yawn. "Many would say" my lawsuit and appeal against Trancas were "just as ridiculous" as Hansom's, you say? That's funny, cuz the Coastal Commission agreed with me (unlike Marcia). The Trancas project was violating the Coastal Act on several fronts (unlike Marcia). Working with my neighbors, we saved Riders and Ropers as open space forever. Acting by myself, in court and at the Coastal Commission, I "extorted" a right turn lane, bike lane, sidewalk and other concessions from Trancas. Also a better lagoon preservation plan. Yup. The losers paid my legal costs. And unlike Marcia, I had the law and that facts on my side. And unlike Marcia, I was acting on an issue in my backyard. I do not troll the Pacific Coast looking for lucrative opportunities like Perenchio, Malibu Valley Farms, David Geffen, etc.
sean August 10, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Marcia, Andy, Hellwood, etc. you have been proven wrong and hurtful to to the environment and the taxpayer. Show some humility and apologize to all of those people you mistakenly accused. If you don't apologize for what you have done you should not be allowed at the lagoon when it is finished and much healthier. It takes some character and balls to admit you were wrong. Let's see if you got any???
John Davis August 10, 2012 at 01:34 AM
CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS PLANNING HANDBOOK - 2 POSTS - CONTINUED http://search.parks.ca.gov/search?site=&client=parks_frontend&output=xml_no_dtd&proxystylesheet=parks_frontend&q=planning+handbook&submit.x=0&submit.y=0 FROM 2010 STATE PARK PLANNING HANDBOOK FROM 2010 STATE PARK PLANNING HANDBOOK Page 29, "A general plan is required by law prior to any substantial development of facilities and, with the environmental analysis, serves as a programmatic Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The general plan is considered a project for the purposes of CEQA". "Public Resources Code Section 5002.2 requires that a general plan be prepared prior to the development of new facilities that may result in the permanent commitment of a resource of the unit." Page 42. "The Final EIR-Response to Comments document is submitted to the persons and agencies who commented at least 10 days prior to the Commission hearing." John Davis
John Davis August 10, 2012 at 01:36 AM
CONTINUED FROM JOHN DAVIS Following public testimony on the Preliminary General Plan/Final EIR, the Commissioners may discuss the document and may require by vote or consensus that amendments or revisions be made. The Commission then votes to approve the submitted plan, including any revisions, conditions or amendments made by the Commission." “Within five working days following the hearing and approval of the Preliminary General Plan and Final EIR, a Notice of Determination (NOD) is prepared …” Page 150 “The EIRs prepared for general plans are considered Program EIRs.” A Program EIR is a type of first-teir document…that can be characterized as one project (CEQA Guidelines Section 15168).” Page 156. “The Preliminary General Plan and Final EIR are also sent to the State Park and Recreation Commission for consideration." John Davis
Ben Dover August 10, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Hey Tom, Give Hans a break. How else is that walrus in a hula shirt going to make any money. He failed the bar exam so he can't be a real lawyer and he lost the council race so he can't get greased by the developers. BTW Hans, I don't have a sister, I think that was our gardeners effeminate son you took out on a date.....
Suzanne Goode August 10, 2012 at 01:34 PM
All pertaining to general plans, not to individual projects.
Hans Laetz August 10, 2012 at 03:35 PM
The Superior Court judge and three Appellate Court judges all reviewed the State Parks record and found it compliant with the CEQA requirements, Mr. Davis. Your side has made its claims and been totally rebuffed. The record is clear.
Cece Stein August 10, 2012 at 03:38 PM
GO SEAN!!!!!!! FINALLY, SOMEBODY AND TELLS IT LIKE IT IS!!! After all the low blows to lagoon supporters, lies, harassment and just blatant disrespect for the legal process I am SO HAPPY to see someone stand up and make this public post directed toward this group of individuals. Personally, Steve and I are fond of Hellwood so we'll keep him out of the equation as far as our little camp goes... but the rest of them - keep firing away Sean! You hit the nail on the head (s)!
Cece Stein August 10, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Steve and I are of firm belief that the Rindge Dam removal may be next on the agenda for the Wetlands Defense fleecing campaign. I heard Roy said at a City Council meeting that he wants to preserve the sediment and habitat that is backed up behind the dam and how a rare insect that dwells there needs protection. Roy and Marcia may get lots of donations from Serra Retreat residents but none of the surfers who supported her before will be doing there disinformation protest work on this one. Fighting for leaving the dam as is will be yet another loosing battle for Wetlands Defense Fund, Serra Retreat and the taxpayers of California. May the Creek be free of artery blocking concrete, may the cobblestones return to Surfrider, and may the Steelhead return to there original spawning grounds.
John Davis August 10, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Suaznne, See page 150 of the Planing document for State Parks. A program EIR is a type of first-teir of one project. Any subsequent projects are tiers of the program EIR, and individual projects all are part of the EIR/General Plan. Upon resolution of of the legislative body to approve, the State Parks Commission at a public meeting, the NOD is then transmitted to the State Clearinghouse. I understand you provided the Notice of Determination to the State knowing that the legislative body had not approved such a resolution. Your statement makes no sense as it regards the required process, what is the legal basis for your statement? Also, the issue of lack of Commission approval has never been before the Courts. John Davis
Hans Laetz August 10, 2012 at 04:53 PM
That point was extensively argued before the judge in San Francisco, by Hansom's attorney. The judge specifically rejected it.
M Stanley August 10, 2012 at 05:33 PM
State Parks made repeated claims of support from the City of Malibu which was untrue. I also do not buy into the claim of "at previous hearings every responsible regional and local conservation and environmental group supported (and supports) the lagoon restoration plan!". Given the false reporting of the so-called "support" from the City of Malibu, every bit of that sentence is tainted and suspect. The use of the term 'responsible' is an interesting slant and one that I think renders the statement more propaganda and marketing than factual reporting or opinion. Judgemental applications have no merit, would you please identify which groups you deem to be irresponsible if you intend to apply such a tainted view Ms. Stein? Maybe you should confer with Suzanne Goode and Mark Abramson to get THEIR views on naming names...I'd love to hear how you come up with the analysis of applying such judgements.
Ted Vaill August 10, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Disgusting result. This saga is not over yet by a long shot. People are going to jail over this and they work for the government. And no real choice for state Assembly-which Lagoon destroyer to vote for?
Cece Stein August 11, 2012 at 04:04 AM
"Disgusting result?" Ted? How about you come down to the lagoon and see what "disgusting" looks like in the form of the trash and ZERO signs of life coming out of the CAL TRANS FILL. Give us a break for god's sake. The Coastal Commission SHOT THE REVOCATION DOWN and ridiculed the "frivolous nature of the complaint" by the WETLANDS DEFENSE FUND. Accept it and move on. Unless you want to write a check for attorney's fees.


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