State Senator Pat Bates’ Coastal Bluff Preservation Bill Receives Bipartisan Support

Written by Nicholas Vetrisek

Last week, the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee heard Senate Bill 1090. The bill, which is sponsored by State Senator Pat Bates, is designed to reduce deaths and accidents caused by collapsing coastal bluffs. Though the bill was not voted on, Democratic Senator Henry Stern the committee’s chair, announced that he will work with Senator Bates to pass bipartisan legislation before the 2020 legislative session is adjourned on August 31.

According to Bates, SB 1090 “would require the Coastal Commission to approve a public agency’s or homeowner’s application for erosion mitigation efforts for planting, drainage, and seawall or shoreline protective device installation — but only if certain requirements for coastal mitigation are met.”

The bill is also requiring the commission to respond to requests within 30 days. Unless the application is a serious threat to public safety, coastal erosion mitigation projects would advance. They further state that “if a project is denied, the Commission would need to respond within 30 days with the reason and documentation for the denial.”

This is an important bill because there have been many cases of bluffs collapsing and in their current state, they constitute major public safety threats. The Encinitas tragedy last August—which killed three people—was the catalyst for the bill, but there have also been other cases of bluff collapses 1995, 2000, 2002, and 2008, which also resulted in deaths.

“I welcome today’s outcome as my effort has always been about saving lives and preserving beach access for all Californians. I appreciate the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee for giving me an opportunity to rebut the claims of critics who have grossly distorted my bill,” Senator Bates said. “Working with Senator Stern, I look forward to continuing the conversation on how we can best protect public safety, preserve beach access, and safeguard private and public infrastructure.”

It’s excellent to see bipartisan support on this often overlooked issue. The issue of public safety at the beach transcends politics and now that there is no indication of partisan attacks, the legislation will hopefully be passed swiftly.