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Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | monterey county

Coastal Commission denies dunes project

February 2010
Sand City Dunes
Hard work by Sierra Club and others saved these dunes in Sand City from being developed—for now.
Photo ©2002-2009 Kenneth & Gabrielle Adelman, California Coastal Records Project,

In a unanimous 8–0 vote at its December meeting, the California Coastal Commission denied the massive resort proposed for rare coastal dune habitat in Sand City. The developer, Security National Guaranty, had proposed a 360,000 square foot mixed-use 341-unit complex including 161 hotel rooms, 180 condominiums, conference center, spa, three swimming pools, a restaurant, and surface and underground parking for 841 vehicles on 39 acres.

Commission staff recommended denying the project in a 138-page report stating the project was “inconsistent with the water supply, hazards, visual resource, natural resource, traffic, and public recreational access provisions of Sand City’s certified Local Coastal Plan, as well as the Coastal Act’s public access and recreation provisions.”

The development plan would have required 693,000 cubic yards of grading and the removal of 417,000 cubic yards of sand. Negative impacts included disruption of habitat for western snowy plover, Smith’s blue butterfly, and sensitive native dune plants such as the protected Monterey spineflower.

Ventana Chapter members traveled to San Francisco to attend the Coastal Commission hearing and to speak against development in fragile habitat. Club member Ed Thornton, a coastal engineering scientist, pointed out that the setback for the resort building was based on erroneous assumptions of the coast erosion rate. The error would have placed the proposed building in a hazard zone based on historical erosion rates. In addition, erosion is expected to increase due to sea level rise.

Thornton cited erosion rates presented in the Regional Sediment Management Plan for southern Monterey Bay released in 2008 that range from 2.7 feet/year for the period 1984-2004 to 3.9- 6.4 feet/year for the period 1970-2002. These data suggest that the value of 2.4 feet/year adopted by the developer for the proposed project underestimated the erosion rate and, hence, the setback.

The Chapter noted that the proposed development plan used a 50-year economic life as required by the Sand City Local Coastal Plan, but should more properly have used a 100-year economic life for the project. The Club believes that using a 50-year economic life is outdated and unrealistic both in terms of the economics of the project and the actual planning for such a project.

Sierra Club lawyer, Larry Silver, spoke on the lack of water available for the project. The proposed resort was denied a water distribution permit by the Monterey Peninsula Water Management Board last April. Since that time the State Water Resources Control Board has issued an order requiring significant reduction of unlawful diversions of the Carmel River as first ordered in 1995.

Thank you to all who wrote letters or spoke at the hearing requesting denial of the project including the Santa Cruz County Group, Surfrider, LandWatch, ORCA, Monterey Dunes Coalition, Coastkeeper, California Native Plant Society Monterey Bay, and many others.

The developer, Security National Guarantee, has filed a lawsuit against the Coastal Commission regarding the denial.

< back to all issues

section title

Ventana Chapter Retains Third Expert to Submit Comments to the CCC Challenging the Habitat Protection Plan for Monterey Bay Shores Resort
February 2017

Sierra Club Files a Notice of Intent to Sue for Violations of the Endangered Species Act from Construction and Operation of the Monterey Bay Shores Development
August 2016

Ventana Chapter Submits Comments to the California Coastal Commission Challenging the Revised HPP for Monterey Bay Shores Resort
March 2016

Ventana Chapter Submits 2 Sets of Expert Comments on Biological Resources and Snowy Plover Habitat for Monterey Bay Shores Resort Dunes Restoration Plan
August 2015

Monterey Bay Shores Resort Hearing at the California Coastal Commission
May 2015

Financial Settlement Reached in Lawsuit between Monterey Bay Shores Resort and Lender
February 2015

California Coastal Commission Votes to Schedule Collections Resort Appeal Hearing in 2015
December 2014

New Financial and Compliance Woes for Monterey Bay Shores Resort
November 2014

Plans for Monterey Bay Resort Deemed Deficient
September 2014

Public Outcry Over Threats to Snowy Plover Nests at Sand City Project Site
May 2014

Coastal Commission Approval of Sand City Resort and Condominium Project Undermines Rare Species Recovery Plan
April 2014

Sierra Club Submits Letter Opposing Monterey Bay Shores Resort to California Coastal Commission
April 2014

Chapter Appeals Sand City Approval of The Collection Resort to the California Coastal Commission
January 2014

Chapter Urges Sand City City Council to Deny The Collection at Monterey Bay Resort Project
November 2013

Monterey Bay Shores Eco-Resort Decision may go to Appeals Court
August 2013

Chapter Submits Comments on The Collection at Monterey Bay Proposed Mega Hotel Complex in Sand City
February 2013

Coastal Commission Denies Dunes Project
February 2010

Sierra Club opposes Coastal Dunes Resort
April 2009