November 19, 2010

Finally!

The 2H Construction/Sean Hitchcock illegal grading matter was heard at the California Coastal Commission's (CCC) Friday, November 19 meeting in Santa Monica, and the Coastal Commissioners did something that the City of Long Beach never really seemed able to do. They unequivocally, angrily and unanimously sent Mr. Hitchcock a message: you screwed up and there are consequences. Several commissioners could not hide their disdain, or skepticism, at Mr. Hitchcock's actions and rationales.

He had it coming, of course. He did a pretty stupid thing, and it wasn't exactly legal. He razed an approximately 9 acre area of the Los Cerritos Wetlands complex and ripped off the landfill cap, exposing humans and critters to dangerous levels of methane. Oh yeah – and he didn't have any permits. He just wanted to do a little weed abatement with his bulldozers and then lay a little asphalt down. As one typically does in wetlands areas of the California Coastal Zone.

And to make matters worse, it looked like he was going to get away with it. He sailed right on through the City of Long Beach Zoning hearing with nary a scratch. He did, though, hit a speed bump at the Planning Commission when the commissioners directed the City to prepare a restoration plan. However, the City pushed the matter up to the CCC, sans plan. Bullet dodged.

Fortunately, though, the Coastal Commissioners were having none of Mr. Hitchcock's shenanigans. Coastal Commission staff made recommendations for a restoration and monitoring plan, and the Commissioners added to them. Sean Hitchcock is to: 1) restore the contours which he bulldozed, I mean weed abated; 2) up the percentage of native plants onsite from 75% to 80%, an onerous jump; and 3) add an impermeable landfill cap to keep ponding water out of the landfill. The CCC is also requiring a 3rd party monitor throughout the life of the Project, ya know, because Mr. Hitchcock doesn't exactly have a sterling track record. They are solid conditions, I think. I'm particularly glad to see the bit about the contours.

All in all, it was a good day, at least for the environmentalists who recognized this for the egregious action it was, and just wouldn't let it drop.

And to the Coastal Commissioners who upheld the Coastal Act and sent a clear message that this illegal activity isn't okay? Thank you.