Coastal Commission staff says the special conditions "address restoration and re-vegetation of the previously graded area of the site subject to the landfill cap with native plants appropriate to the location; timing of the re-vegetation; monitoring and future maintenance of the site; and protection of water quality and marine resources."
If adopted by a Coastal Commission majority, the special conditions would effectively make the landowner (2H; principal is Sean Hitchcock, acquired parcel from Tom Dean-related LLC) subject to a site restoration and revegetation plan (encompassing plants and animals) with monitoring for at least five years.
It would effectively set aside the actions of a LB City Hall Zoning Administrator (who declined to order restoration sought by a number of residents and environmental advocates) and City Hall's non-elected Planning Commission that voted 5-0 in Dec. 2009 to uphold the Zoning Administrator's action but asked city staff to work on a remediation plan for Commission consideration (i.e. no guarantees) within 90 days.
The residents/appellants who appealed City Hall's actions to the Coastal Commission are Los Cerritos Wetlands Trust (Elizabeth Lambe, Executive Director), Thomas Marchese, Heather Altman, Mary Suttie, David Robertson, El Dorado Audubon Society (Mary Parsell), and Our Town -- Long Beach (Joan Hawley McGrath, Sandie Van Horn, Pat Towner, Cindy Crawford, Tarin Olsen, Kerrie Aley, Allan Songer & Brenda McMillan). As a result, the Coastal Commission will now hold a de novo (new hearing) on the matter (not simply reviewing city actions).
1. Site Restoration, Re-vegetation and Monitoring Plan
PRIOR TO ISSUANCE OF THE COASTAL DEVELOPMENT PERMIT, the applicant shall submit, for review and written approval of the Executive Director, a detailed restoration and re-vegetation and monitoring plan for the portions of the project site that were disturbed by prior grading on March 19 and 20, 2009, and including the area covered with the fill imported pursuant to Emergency Permit 5-09-068-G. The detailed re-vegetation plan and monitoring program shall be prepared by a licensed Landscape Architect or a qualified Resource Specialist in consultation with the California Department of Fish and Game, the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health (Environmental Health Solid Waste Management Program), and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD). The re-vegetation and monitoring program shall at a minimum include the following:
A. Native Plant List. All plants shall be Southern California native plants appropriate to the natural habitat type (transitional scrub grassland – salt marsh to uplands). Appropriate native plants include, but are not limited to, coastal sage, buckwheat, bunch grass and annuals (e.g., lupin). All seeds and cuttings employed shall be from local sources in the Los Angeles and Orange County coastal areas. Prior to the first planting cycle, the permittee shall provide the Executive Director with the quantities and sources of all plants used in the project.
B. Native Plant Coverage. The re-vegetation plan shall indicate the location, number and distribution of native plants to be installed. The re-vegetation plan shall be adequate to cover at least sixty-percent of the disturbed area with native plants within six months of initial planting.
C. Additional Fill. Installation of the plants shall not result in the exposure of trash or other materials from the underlying landfill. Additional soil shall be imported to create a six-inch thick layer of soil for the new plants. The storage or stockpiling of soil, silt, other organic or earthen materials shall not occur where such materials could pass into coastal waters.
D. Timing of Re-vegetation. Re-vegetation shall commence as soon as possible following removal of non-native plants and preparation of the soil. Installation of the native plants shall commence at the project site no later than ninety (90) days from the date of Commission approval of this permit, or within such additional time as the Executive Director may grant for good cause. The initial planting shall be completed no later than six weeks from the commencement of planting, in compliance with the re-vegetation and monitoring plan approved by the Executive Director.
E. Removal of Non-native Plants. Prior to the installation of the native plants, all non-native weeds and grasses shall be removed from the area to be re-vegetated. Existing non-native trees shall also be removed from the area to be re-vegetated, except for individual trees that have been determined by a qualified Resource Specialist to not have any adverse effect on the adjacent habitat area and surrounding environment. No bird nests shall be disturbed at any time. Removal of non-native weeds, grasses and trees shall be done in compliance with the requirements of Special Condition Two of this permit. Prior to the removal of non-native vegetation, a qualified Resource Specialist shall survey the project site and identify with flags all areas of existing native vegetation. The permittee shall ensure that the areas of existing native vegetation are protected from disturbance during the implementation of the approved project, and that adequate water is provided to keep the plants healthy. Under the supervision of a qualified Resource Specialist, the permittee shall remove all non-native plants from the re-vegetation area using only hand-held tools while taking care to avoid disturbance of native plants and the trash in the underlying landfill. No herbicides may be employed. No grading or scraping is permitted. No heavy machinery may be used. Smaller mechanized vehicles with rubber tires (e.g. Bobcats) may be used to transport heavy loads between paved roads and work areas. No dead plants shall be left on site and no persistent chemicals shall be employed.
F. Irrigation. A temporary irrigation system may be installed in order to provide enough water to keep the native plants healthy. No runoff shall leave the project site. The irrigation system shall be removed from the project site at the completion of the required monitoring and/or certification by the applicant’s Landscape Architect or Resource Specialist that the required re-vegetation plan has become successful.
G. Invasive Plants. No plant species listed as problematic and/or invasive by the California Native Plant Society, the California Exotic Pest Plant Council, or as may be identified from time to time by the State of California shall be employed or allowed to naturalize or persist on the site. No plant species listed as a ‘noxious weed’ by the State of California or the U.S. Federal Government shall be utilized within the property.
H. Erosion Control. Prior to removing the non-native plants and preparation of the soil, the permittee shall install silt curtains along the entire length of the property lines in order to prevent runoff and siltation in the adjacent drainages and waterways. Jute matting (with no plastic netting) shall be placed on all slopes immediately following the removal of the existing plant cover. In addition, the permittee shall implement the following temporary erosion control measures during the restoration project: temporary sediment basins (including debris basins, desilting basins or silt traps), temporary drains and swales, sand bag barriers, and additional silt fencing as needed.
I. Maintenance. Native vegetation shall be maintained in good growing condition throughout the life of the project, and whenever necessary, shall be replaced with new plant materials to ensure continued compliance with the re-vegetation plan.
J. Disposal of Plant Matter. All cut plant material shall be disposed of at an appropriate off-site location within ten days of cutting. A separate coastal development permit will be required prior to the placement of any cut plant material in the coastal zone unless the Executive Director determines that no permit is required pursuant to the requirements of the Coastal Act and the California Code of Regulations.
K. Monitoring. For at least five years following the initial planting, the permittee shall actively monitor the site, remove non-native plants and replant vegetation that has failed. The permittee shall monitor and inspect the site no less than once each thirty days during the first year that follows the initial planting. Thereafter, the permittee shall monitor the site at least once every ninety days. Each year, for a minimum of five years from the date of permit issuance, the permittee shall submit for the review and approval of the Executive Director, an annual re-vegetation monitoring report, prepared by a licensed Landscape Architect or qualified Resource Specialist that certifies the re-vegetation is in conformance with the approved re-vegetation plan. The annual monitoring report shall include photographic documentation of plant species and plant coverage. If the annual re-vegetation monitoring report indicates the re-vegetation is not in conformance with or has failed to meet the performance standards specified in the re-vegetation plan approved pursuant to this permit, the permittee shall submit a revised or supplemental re-vegetation plan for the review and approval of the Executive Director. The revised re-vegetation plan must be prepared by a licensed Landscape Architect or a qualified Resource Specialist and shall specify measures to remediate those portions of the original plan that have failed or are not in conformance with the original approved plan. The permittee shall implement the supplemental re-vegetation plan approved by the Executive Director and/or seek an amendment to this permit if required by the Executive Director.
L. Prior to any re-vegetation or disturbance of the site, the permittee shall file an 1150.1 (Excavation of Landfill Plan) with the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
The permittee shall implement the re-vegetation plan in accordance with the final plans approved by the Executive Director. Any proposed changes to the approved final plans shall be reported to the Executive Director. No changes to the approved final plans shall occur without a Commission amendment to this coastal development permit unless the Executive Director determines that no amendment is required pursuant to the requirements of the Coastal Act and the California Code of Regulations.
2. Ongoing Maintenance: Weed Abatement and Tree Trimming
Coastal Development Permit A-5-LOB-10-015 approves weed abatement, tree trimming, non-native tree removal, and ongoing maintenance of the property (6400 E. Loynes Drive) consistent with the terms of this permit. This permit does not authorize the construction of any trails or roads, or the erection of any fence, gate or wall. All weed abatement, tree trimming, ongoing maintenance, and all work carried out pursuant to any City or County issued abatement order, shall comply with the terms of this permit in order to ensure the protection of wildlife habitat and the long-term protection of breeding, roosting, and nesting habitat of state and federally listed bird species, California bird species of special concern, and bird species that play an especially valuable role in the ecosystem.
No bird nests shall be disturbed. Prior to tee trimming and weed abatement, a qualified biologist or ornithologist shall survey the project site to detect bird nests and submit a survey report to the permittee and the Executive Director of the Coastal Commission. The survey report shall include identification of all known nests. The permittee shall maintain a file of survey reports that includes a record of nests that is to be used for future vegetation removal decisions.
All weed abatement, tree trimming, non-native tree removal, and ongoing maintenance of open space areas shall be supervised by a qualified biologist or Wetland Ecologist and shall be undertaken in compliance with all applicable codes or regulations of the California Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and shall be conducted in conformance with the following terms of this special condition.
A. Tree Trimming and Non-native Tree Removal
1. Unless otherwise specified by the terms of this permit, tree trimming and non-native tree removal shall take place only outside of bird breeding and nesting season, which is January 1 through September 30.
2. The trimming or removal of any tree that has been used for breeding and nesting within the past five years is prohibited, unless the permittee obtains a coastal development permit or emergency permit authorizing such trimming and removal. Prior to tree trimming or removal of any tree, a qualified biologist or ornithologist shall survey the trees to be trimmed or removed to detect nests and submit a survey report to the permittee and the Executive Director of the Coastal Commission. The survey report shall include identification of all trees with nests. The permittee shall maintain a file of survey reports that includes a record of nesting trees to be used for future tree trimming and removal decisions.
3. No bird nests shall be disturbed. Trimming may not proceed if a nest is found and evidence of courtship or nesting behavior is observed at the site. In the event that any birds continue to occupy trees during the non-nesting season, trimming shall not take place until a qualified biologist or ornithologist has assessed the site, determined that courtship behavior has ceased, and given approval to proceed within 300 feet of any occupied tree (500 feet for raptors).
4. No California native trees shall be removed. All existing native vegetation shall be protected.
5. Tree trimming and non-native tree removal shall be done using only hand operated equipment only (e.g., machetes, weed whackers and chain saws). No herbicides shall be used.
B. Weed Abatement
1. Unless otherwise specified by the terms of this permit, weed abatement activities shall take place outside of the marsh bird nesting season, which is February 1 through August 31.
2. Prior to weed abatement and removal of any plant material, a qualified biologist or ornithologist shall survey the project site to detect nests and submit a survey report to the permittee and the Executive Director of the Coastal Commission. The survey report shall include identification of all known nests. The permittee shall maintain a file of survey reports that includes a record of nests that is to be used for future vegetation removal decisions.
3. No bird nests shall be disturbed. Weed abatement and removal of any plant material may not proceed within 300 feet (500 feet for raptors) of a nest where evidence of courtship or nesting behavior is observed. In the event that any birds continue to occupy nests during the non-nesting season, trimming shall not take place until a qualified biologist or ornithologist has assessed the site, determined that courtship behavior has ceased, and given approval to proceed within 300 feet (500 feet for raptors) of any nest.
4. All existing native vegetation shall be protected.
5. Weed abatement and removal of plant materials shall be done using only hand operated equipment only (e.g., machetes, weed whackers and chain saws). No herbicides shall be used.
C. Disposal of plant matter. All cut plant materials shall be disposed of at an appropriate off-site location within ten days of cutting. A separate coastal development permit will be required prior to the placement of any cut plant material in the coastal zone unless the Executive Director determines that no permit is required pursuant to the requirements of the Coastal Act and the California Code of Regulations.
All weed abatement, tree trimming and non-native tree removal shall be conducted in strict compliance with this policy. Any proposed change or deviation from the approved development as conditioned shall be submitted for review by the Executive Director to determine whether an amendment to this coastal development permit is required pursuant to the requirements of the Coastal Act and the California Code of Regulations.
3. Resource Agencies
The permittee shall comply with all requirements, requests and mitigation measures from the California Department of Fish and Game, Regional Water Quality Control Board, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with respect to preservation and protection of water quality and marine environment. Any change in the approved project that may be required by the above-stated agencies shall be submitted to the Executive Director in order to determine if the proposed change shall require a permit amendment pursuant to the requirements of the Coastal Act and the California Code of Regulations.
4. Condition Compliance
Within sixty (60) days of Commission action on this coastal development permit application, or within such additional time as the Executive Director may grant for good cause, the applicants shall satisfy all requirements specified in the conditions hereto that the applicants are required to satisfy prior to issuance of this permit. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in the institution of enforcement action under the provisions of Chapter 9 of the Coastal Act.
5. Future Development Restriction
This permit is only for the development described in Coastal Development Permit A-5-LOB-10-015. Except as provided in Public Resources Code section 30610 and applicable regulations, any future development as defined in PRC section 30106, including, but not limited to, a change in the density or intensity of use land, shall require an amendment to Coastal Development Permit A-5-LOB-10-015 from the California Coastal Commission or shall require an additional coastal development permit from the California Coastal Commission or from the applicable certified local government.
The vacant 9.38-acre bay-fronting site (south side of Loynes Drive just west of Studebaker Rd.) is a former landfill/refuse dump that (Coastal Commission staff notes) filled coastal marshland in the 1940s and ‘50s. "The top layer of the landfill was disturbed by unpermitted grading that occurred on March 19 and 20, 2009. That unpermitted grading altered the topography and removed vegetation from most of the site. Apparently, the grading also exposed part of the old dump," the Coastal Commission staff report notes.
The City Hall proceedings that have now led to the upcoming Coastal Commission hearing were hard fought by both sides.
Following a roughly three hour hearing in December 2009, LB's Planning Commission voted 5-0 (motion by Van Horik; Smith & Gentile absent) to deny an appeal filed by multiple appellants, uphold a decision of City Hall's Zoning Administrator decison to grant permits to allow and maintain a cap on the (landfill) property with a condition of approval that requests staff to work on a remediation plan and bring it back to Commission within 90 days.
City staff recommended upholding the city staff Zoning Administrator (no restoration required). [Link to city staff report, click here.]
Multiple appellants and members of the public described the property in its prior condition, citing trees, nesting birds and other wildlife. Appellant/area resident Sandie Van Horn displayed photographs. Multiple speakers sought restoration of the property to its previous condition.
Mr. Hitchcock's lawyer, Charles Hokanson, told the Commission that restoration wasn't necessary. "The site is now as it was then. On March 18, the property was a covered landfill. It had a cap on it. It was a covered landfill, covered with weeds. Today, it is a covered landfill and weeds have now again grown such that we have got a new directive from the Fire Department to cut down the weeds. The site is now exactly as it was then," Mr. Hokanson said.