Coastal Commission Certifies Santa Monica Mountains Plan

The project is certified using innovative but little known approach to streamline coastal permitting for qualifying public projects.

The California Coastal Commission has certified approval of a large-scale project to improve parks, open space, trails, and wildlife habitat on 1,700 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains. The project was certified using a Public Works Plan (PWP), an innovative but little known approach to streamlining California Coastal Commission permitting for qualifying public projects.

Dudek prepared the PWP for its clients, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (Conservancy) and Malibu Recreation and Conservancy Authority (MRCA). The successful application was only the third new PWP approved by the Commission in the last
ten years.

A PWP provides a comprehensive permit vehicle for obtaining Commission approval often of large or phased public works projects in place of the usual project-by-project permit application process.

“The savings in time and expense are significant for projects that will be phased in over several years, have multiple components, overlap several jurisdictions, or are controversial and likely subject to an extensive appeal process by local decision makers and the Commission,” said Dudek’s April Winecki, who specializes in coastal resource planning and policy analysis. Ms. Winecki led Dudek’s team on the PWP preparation.

Approval of the PWP provides the following benefits to the project applicants:

  • The Conservancy, MRCA, and involved public entities have a significantly higher degree of certainty regarding long-term project development
  • The possibility of potential project appeals is eliminated
  • The need to coordinate permit processing through separate jurisdictions is eliminated
  • The need to process numerous coastal development permits for individual and potentially non-contiguous properties is eliminated
  • Consistency is provided for future project review, analysis, processing, and implementation pursuant to the PWP, which remains under the authority of the Commission irrespective of coastal permit jurisdictional boundaries.