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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Coastal Commission Rejects Permit Revocation Request

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

The California Coastal Commission, with commissioner Richard Bloom-who is also a member of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission-recused, voted unanimously to deny a revocation request to revoke the permits for State Parks’ Malibu Lagoon Restoration and Enhancement Project.
The commission dismissed testimony provided by Wetlands Defense Fund representative Marcia Hanscom and Coastal Law Enforcement Action Network spokesperson Robert Roy van de Hoek
The commission concluded the hearing by affirming that there was no evidence to support the revocation request.
An attempt by State Parks attorney David Wiseman to seek financial damages to cover the cost of legal and staff fees was rejected by the commission. Commission staff explained that the panel does not have the authority to grant a request for financial reenumeration.
Grounds for revocation are entirely procedural, and include intentional inclusion of inaccurate, erroneous or incomplete information in connection to a coastal development application where the commission finds that accurate and complete information would have caused the commission to require additional or different conditions on a permit or deny an application.
The revocation request was based on a number of points, including assertions that the environmental impact report was certified by staff but was never approved by any deliberative body, assertions that a project general plan update was required but never sought.
Additional documents included in the revocation request included a series of emails between Urban Wildlands Group scientist Travis Longcore and commission biologist Jonna Engel regarding the presence of a population of South Coast meadow vole, a species of special concern, at the construction site.
According to the exchange, State Parks’ biologists failed to identify the tiny mammal during pre-construction surveys.
Two of the voles were reportedly killed during construction and subsequently IDed. An additional 50 voles were relocated, according to the documents.
The project has a special condition that specifies that State Parks “Initiate a salvage and relocation program prior to any excavation/maintenance activities to move sensitive species by hand to safe locations elsewhere along the project reach or,  as appropriate, implement a resource avoidance program with sufficient buffer areas to ensure adverse impacts to such resources are avoided.
“As I’m sure you know, relocating wildlife in this manner essentially lets people feel better about  not killing them directly, but in fact results in their eventual death,” Longcore wrote.
“We have reason to believe the  [vole] is still hanging on in the eastern meadow, on the eastern edge of Malibu Creek, where the state contractors are not yet working,” Hanscom told the Malibu Surfside News after the hearing.
“We are still hopeful we can convince [State Parks to not excavate.”

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