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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

CCC Approves Peace Park Cease and Desist

• Owner Is Ordered to Remove Unpermitted Development

                         BY BILL KOENEKER

The California Coastal Commission, at its meeting last week in Chula Vista, approved an agreement or what is called a consent cease and desist order authorizing and directing the United World of the Universe Foundation and Canyon at Peace Park to cease and desist from engaging in any further unpermitted development including “removal of vegetation, grading of roads, construction of residences, placement of structures and installation of parking area in a riparian woodland” on properties on several parcels at 2900 Kanan Dume Road.
“The property owner is in agreement to what is proposed,” said Coastal Commission spokesperson Sarah Christi. “That is why we are calling it a consent. We have cooperated with them. They are not contesting it. They agreed.”
According to a CCC staff report, the violations include the conversion of the previously permitted pump housing, without permit, into a residential structure, the construction of a large unpermitted residence with garage, guesthouse and landscaping, construction of a residence within a designated Significant Oak Woodland, and installation of a residence without permit northeast of the women’s facility. The property is currently used as a addiction treatment facility.
The National Park Service and Heal the Bay praised the commission staff for the resolution of the matter.
“Furthermore, we are pleased that the property owners have been cooperating with the Coastal Commission staff to address the unpermitted development on the site and that they are in agreement to the terms of the Cease and Desist and Restoration Orders. We encourage the commission to approve the proposed orders and move forward with restoration as soon as possible,” wrote Sarah Abramson Sikich, Coastal Resources Director at Heal the Bay.
“Overall, we find the staff report’s recommendation to carry out the proposed Consent Orders would be consistent with NPS's management goals and objectives for Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area,” wrote Lorenza Fong, acting superintendent, of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. “The coastal staff report provides an accurate description of the resource sensitivity within which the project lies entirely within the SMMNRA.”
The commission staff report lays out what is expected to cure the Coastal Act violations.
 “United World of the Universe Foundation and Canyon at Peace Park shall remove materials from areas impacted by subject unpermitted development, including but not limited to concrete, culverts, homes, graded roads and structures, and shall apply for an after-the-fact permit for a 4,971 square foot home. The consent order also resolves civil liability associated with unpermitted development addressed by the consent order,” the CCC staff report states.
The commission staff report describes United World of the Universe Foundation as the property owner  and The Canyon at Peace Park, as the renter and operator of  rehabilitation treatment facility.
The proposed consent order was approved and executed by Robert Waggener, of The Canyon at Peace Park and Michael Segal for the owner, United World of the Universe Foundation.
Various websites describe Fred Segal as the president of the foundation, though published reports indicate he has retired from the post.
Segal has talked often about the Peace Park in Ramirez Canyon, its opening when the Dahli Lama visited, and the use of the 240-acre property for a world class treatment facility.
In addition, the commission also approved a consent restoration order “to remove unpermitted development and restore portions of properties at the Kanan Dume Road address.
“Proposed restoration includes but not limited to restoring areas impacted by unpermitted development, mitigation for loss of habitat by creating or enhancing onsite coast live oak woodland, coastal sage scrub, and chaparral and purchasing acre credit in the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority’s mitigation bank. The consent order also resolves civil liability associated with the unpermitted development addressed by the consent order,” the CCC staff report states.
“We are actually very satisfied with the outcome as proposed,” added Christi. “They are to do a lot of restoration activity.”
Both the NPS and Heal the Bay expressed satisfaction with the proposed mitigation especially the creek restoration stating that armored stream banks are one of three major causes of downstream bank erosion and sedimentation.
The commission report indicates enforcement action was addressed by the coastal panel back in 1990.
At that time, a permit was issued that outlined how to bring the subject property into compliance and outlining where permitted future development could occur and by requiring restoration of several areas where permitted future development could occur.
The permit allowed the construction of a residence now known as the men's facility and a guesthouse within two of the prescribed development areas.
“The violations currently on site, and which are the subjects of these consent orders fall within three basic categories; previously undertaken unpermitted development, which was to be restored, but which remains intact, new unpermitted development within areas delineated as open space, and therefore specifically precluding future development and finally new unpermitted development within areas which were previously delineated as potentially appropriate for development, yet lacking the required coastal development permits,” the staff report concludes.
The commission staff report also notes the unpermitted development on the eastern 120 acres will be addressed in a separate forthcoming action.

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