Send in your Opposition Letter by may 1, 2018

attend the may 1st City Council MeetinG AND     WEAR BLUE

(address below)

For the better part of 4 years, the City of San Clemente Staff and its leadership have been actively working to create a Local Coastal Plan (LCP). The City of San Clemente claims, like most cities, that the LCP will benefit the them by providing it with greater authority over development in the Coastal Zone. While the LCP provides the City with the ability to control development of its own property without much Coastal Commission interference, it drastically strips the rights of thousands of private property owners in the community. A LCP is comprised of two key documents 1) the Land Use Plan (LUP) and 2) the Implementation Plan (IP). Both the LUP and the IP are very detailed documents that will essentially become the guiding and governing documents for the City going forward for ALL coastal properties.  The certification process requires that the Coastal Commission certify the LUP. Once approved by the Coastal Commission, the City has 6 months to either approve or reject the LUP. The Coastal Commission certified the LUP on February 8th, 2018 and the San Clemente City Council will vote on it on May 1st, 2018.  The City Council’s anticipated approval is scheduled for May 1st, which will happen regardless of any public hearings or comments, as the Coastal Commission has informed the City that they can only approve or reject the document “as is.” This take it or leave it approach is standard policy for the Coastal Commission for this process for all cities.

The LUP and IP are critically important documents for properties located within the Coastal Zone in San Clemente, specifically for bluff top, oceanfront and second row oceanfront property/homeowners in San Clemente. The language and policy contained within these documents will determine future property values, impact property owner’s ability to sell or obtain financing and insurance, and most importantly, it will determine how they can (or in most cases, cannot) repair, maintain and protect their home. The 2018 LUP for San Clemente includes some of the most aggressive and detrimental language seen to date from the California Coastal Commission. 

This is a critically important document for Coastal Rights Coalition as for the first time in binding policy, the Coastal Commission is requiring the term Existing Development be tied to the enactment of the Coastal Act in 1977. Previously, the term existing was defined and even argued in court by the Coastal Commission to mean that Existing Development is defined as what is existing at the time the permit application is submitted. They now have made a complete 180 degree turn on this policy interpretation by essentially “time-stamping” property owners through their definition of a “Major Remodel”, which is defined as follows: “Alterations that involves (1) additions to an existing structure, (2) exterior and/or interior renovations, and/or (3) demolition of an existing bluff top or beachfront or coastal canyon single-family residence or other principal structure, or portions thereof, which results in: (a) Alteration of 50% or more of major structural components including exterior walls, floor and roof structure, and foundation, or a 50% increase in floor area. Alterations are not additive between individual major structural components; however, changes to individual major structural components are cumulative over time from January 1, 1977. or (b) Demolition, renovation or replacement of less than 50% of a major structural component where the proposed alteration would result in cumulative alterations exceeding 50% or more of a major structural component, taking into consideration previous alterations approved on or after the date of certification of the LUP; or an alteration that constitutes less than 50% increase in floor area where the proposed alteration would result in a cumulative addition of greater than 50% of the floor area taking into consideration previous additions approved on or after January 1, 1977. If development constitutes a Major Remodel as defined herein, a Coastal Development Permit shall be required. As used in this LUP, the term “redevelopment” shall be interchangeable with the term “major remodel.”

By including the January 1st, 1977 date in this definition, it contradicts the way in which the Coastal Act was written, which termed “Existing” as what is standing at the time a permit is requested. It now has retro actively dated private property to what was standing as of January 1st, 1977 and/or how much of that property has been remodeled since that time, on a cumulative total basis. Meaning, if you owned a single-family residence that was built before 1977, you are only able to have remodeled it less than 50% since January 1st, 1977 for the remainder of its life. If you, or previous owners, have passed that threshold of 50%, the structure is no longer considered “Existing Development”, which is afforded protections under the CA Constitution, as well as the Coastal Act. It would instead be deemed “Existing Non-Conforming”, and therefore not entitled to those same protections or permit abilities.

Unfortunately for the residents of San Clemente, the City of San Clemente staff has deemed this language acceptable. It is likely because the most egregious policies contained in the current LUP draft do not apply to “Coastal Dependent Uses”, which in San Clemente is primarily City owned structures.

The Coastal Rights Coalition is deeply concerned with the ratification of this policy language by the City of San Clemente, as it is very similar to language which the Coastal Rights Coalition helped defeat in the State Assembly last year in Assembly Bill 1129 (Stone). It appears that since the Coastal Commission was unable to advance their policy goals through the legislature, they are now moving to force municipalities to adopt their policy objectives by ratifying “City Policy” in the LUP/LCP process. Should the City of San Clemente carry this policy into effect through the approval of the 2018 LUP as drafted, it would be the first time the California Coastal Commission will have converted this policy goal into binding policy.

The Coastal Rights Coalition has acted to push back on City and Coastal staff and aided in bringing awareness to affected property owners within the City. In hopes that the property owners will take action and send opposition letters to their elected leadership as well as attend the May 1st hearing at 6PM, at which time the City Council will vote to either accept or reject this far more restrictive interpretation of the California Coastal Act.

Read the entire Land Use Plan here. 


  • Print and sign the Opposition letter and fax to 949.492.0884 or email directly to Please do this before May 1st. 
  • Attend and voice opposition to the adoption of the LUP at the May 1st City Council Meeting: San Clemente Civic Center, 100 Avenida Presidio 6:00 p.m. WEAR BLUE to show your support. 
  • Share the news with your friends and neighbors on social media or by email. Forward this page directly. 

Thank you for your help! 

We cannot succeed in our mission to protect our collective property rights without people like you.