Chapter 1 - Introduction
North Coast Corridor PWP/TREP
The San Diego County coastal area contains some of the most heavily used beaches on the California coastline and offers varying coastline experiences enjoyed by the public year-round. These include sandy beaches, offshore reefs, rocky headlands, several harbors with marinas, and a number of other recreational facilities that support sport fishing, picnicking, boating, kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, and natural resource and lagoon education centers. Northern San Diego County alone contains 30 miles of coastline and includes some of the largest remaining coastal wetlands in California. These coastal lagoons also provide exceptional recreational opportunities. Some have accessible sandy beaches at the shoreline; most have accessible trail systems in the upland areas surrounding the lagoons. The 1999 California Coastal Commission (Coastal Commission) Public Access Action Plan reports that 63% of the San Diego County coastal area is accessible to the public. This percentage has likely increased since 1999 given the ongoing efforts of the Coastal Commission and local governments to implement their respective coastal access programs intended to meet the demand for recreational support facilities and access to these resources. However, the Coastal Commission Public Access Action Plan recognizes roadway congestion as one of the greatest impediments to public access in coastal areas and specifically notes that, among other things, traffic congestion and poor traffic circulation are significant problems where residents and visitors compete to use the same transportation system. In addition, there are limited transit and freeway options that provide access to the local transportation system used to access the beach and upland coastal recreation areas. As a result, maintaining acceptable transportation services and developing and using alternative transportation modes is critical for ensuring public access to recreational opportunities along the San Diego County coastline for both residents and visitors.
1.1 Purpose of Public Works Plan/Transportation and Resource Enhancement Program
The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) have prepared this North Coast Corridor (NCC) Public Works Plan/Transportation and Resource Enhancement Program (PWP/TREP) to
- Plan for and implement a series of rail, highway, transit, bicycle, pedestrian, and community enhancement projects to improve and maintain mobility and access to coastal recreational resources in the NCC.
- Plan for and implement a comprehensive program to protect, restore, and enhance sensitive coastal resources in the NCC and mitigate potential resource impacts caused by the implementation of the transportation and community enhancement projects.
- Meet the various requirements for approval of the transportation, community, and resource enhancement projects included in the PWP in accordance with Senate Bill 468 (Kehoe), local coastal programs (LCP), and Chapter 3 of the California Coastal Act, as applicable.
- Provide a coordinated TREP to function as a master federal consistency certification document for the transportation, community, and resource enhancement projects included in the PWP/TREP consistent with California's Coastal Management Program (CCMP)/Chapter 3 policies of the Coastal Act.
1.2 Coastal Zone Management Act and The California Coastal Act
In 1972, the United States Congress passed the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) with the overall goal to "preserve, protect, develop, and where possible, restore or enhance the resources of the nation's coastal zone." The CZMA is a federal and state partnership that manages coastal resources and encourages states to develop coastal management programs to implement the federal CZMA.
In 1976, the California State Legislature adopted the California Coastal Act (the Coastal Act) to implement the CZMA. The Coastal Act is the foundation of the CCMP, which includes the basic policies for managing and balancing the use of resources for state and national interests in California's Coastal Zone. The enforceable policies of the CCMP are the Chapter 3 policies of the Coastal Act. These policies address critical coastal resource issues, including public coastline access, coastal and inland recreation, low-cost visitor activities, protection and enhancement of sensitive habitat and species, water quality, and agricultural and visual resources.
Development activities requiring coastal development permits in the Coastal Zone are regulated by the Coastal Commission and local governments through their respective coastal development permit processes. Coastal Act Chapter 3 policy mandates and coastal development permit requirements are implemented by local governments (cities and counties) pursuant to a certified LCP. Upon certification of an LCP by the Coastal Commission, local governments assume coastal development permit responsibility for most new development within their jurisdictions.
A PWP is an alternate vehicle for obtaining approval of large or phased public works projects and remains under the authority of the Coastal Commission irrespective of coastal permit jurisdictional boundaries. A PWP is an alternative to project-by-project review for public works (which could require multiple coastal development permits for different components of a public works project). A PWP must be sufficiently detailed regarding the size, kind, intensity, and location of development to allow the Coastal Commission to determine its consistency with the policies in Chapter 3 of the Coastal Act (pre-LCP certification) or the certified LCP (post-LCP certification). Once the Coastal Commission approves a PWP, no coastal development permit is required if the development is consistent with the PWP. Instead, the permittee provides a Notice of Impending Development (NOID) to the Coastal Commission and other interested persons, organizations, and government agencies. The Coastal Commission then reviews the NOID for consistency with the approved PWP; if the Coastal Commission determines that the NOID is consistent with the PWP, the development may proceed.1 In these cases, however, the Coastal Commission may still apply conditions to that specific project to ensure consistency with the PWP.
The majority of the NCC's transportation, community, and resource enhancement improvements would be located within the Northern San Diego County Coastal Zone; therefore, these improvements would be subject to the coastal resource protection policies of the Coastal Act or the certified LCP, as applicable. This PWP/TREP evaluates the NCC project for consistency with the Coastal Act and, as applicable, certified LCPs to ensure that program components are implemented to provide for maximum protection and enhancement of public access, recreation, and sensitive coastal resources.
1.3 Sandag and Caltrans as Applicants
SANDAG is a regional planning agency governed by a board of directors comprising 19 city and county governments and a number of advisory representatives. SANDAG provides a forum for regional decision-making; builds consensus; makes strategic plans; obtains and allocates resources; plans, engineers, and builds public transportation; and provides information on a broad range of topics pertinent to the region's quality of life. In addition, SANDAG programs local, state, and federal transportation funds and provides a forum for addressing regional and multi-jurisdictional growth issues.
Caltrans serves as an advisory representative to SANDAG and is responsible for building and managing state highway and freeway projects, providing intercity rail services such as Amtrak, permitting public-use airports and special-use hospital heliports, and working with local agencies to improve mobility. Caltrans carries out its mission of improving mobility through a number of programs that address highway transportation, mass transit, transportation planning, aeronautics, rail, and administration. Caltrans's strategic goals focus on providing a safe transportation system for users and workers by maximizing transportation system performance and accessibility, efficiently delivering quality transportation projects and services, preserving and enhancing California's resources and assets, and promoting quality service. SANDAG and Caltrans' roles in transportation projects, as well as those for other agencies and operators, are outlined in Table 1-1.
Together, SANDAG and Caltrans prepared this PWP/TREP to plan for and implement a series of projects in a comprehensive and coordinated manner to meet a mobility vision as defined in the 2050 Regional Transportation Plan (2050 RTP), and consistent with the multimodal and natural resource protection requirements of Senate Bill 468 (Kehoe). This corridor-wide vision provides for an efficient and integrated system of transit, local roadways, highways, pedestrian, and bicycle facilities that facilitate the movement of people, goods, and services within the NCC. As an alternative to maintaining and improving transportation facilities and addressing coastal resource impacts on a project-by-project basis, this PWP/TREP provides a planning, analytical, and implementation mechanism to address improvements throughout the NCC on a comprehensive, system-wide basis (consistent with Coastal Act mandates), which focus on protecting, enhancing, and maintaining coastal resource values, and maximizing public access to coastal resources and recreational facilities.
In addition to serving as a planning document, this PWP/TREP also serves as the formal proposal that Caltrans and SANDAG ("Applicants") have submitted to the Coastal Commission for its review and approval, pursuant to authority described above and the procedures described below. As part of this comprehensive proposal, Caltrans also proposes to work with the Coastal Commission to develop a Memorandum of Understanding through which Caltrans will agree to defend and indemnify the Coastal Commission for all costs and fees it incurs in connection with the defense of any action brought by a party other than Applicants against the Coastal Commission challenging their actions on this Public Works Plan and/or the associated Local Coastal Program amendments and Federal Consistency Certification. Such costs and fees may include any reasonable costs associated with retaining counsel and any court costs and attorney's fees that a court may require the Coastal Commission to pay. The Coastal Commission retains complete authority to conduct and direct the defense of any such action against the Coastal Commission.
Table 1-1: Typical Agency Roles for Transportation Projects (a)
|Projects||SANDAG||Caltrans||North County Transit District (NCTD)||Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)||Federal Transit Administration (FTA)||Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)||Amtrak||Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF)|
|System Planning and Prioritization for Highway Projects||Primary Responsibility (Lead)||Secondary Responsibility (Support/Input)|
|System Planning and Prioritization for Transit Projects||Primary Responsibility (Lead)||Secondary Responsibility (Support/Input)|
|System Planning and Prioritization for Rail Projects||Primary Responsibility (Lead)||Primary Responsibility (Lead)(c)||Secondary Responsibility (Support/Input)|
|Lead National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Agency for Highway Projects||Secondary Responsibility (Support/Input)(d)||Primary Responsibility (Lead)|
|Lead NEPA Agency for Transit Projects||Secondary Responsibility (Support/Input)(d)||Primary Responsibility (Lead)|
|Lead NEPA Agency for Rail Projects||Secondary Responsibility (Support/Input)(d)||Secondary Responsibility (Support/Input)||Primary Responsibility (Lead)|
|Lead California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Agency for Highway Projects||Primary Responsibility (Lead)|
|Lead CEQA Agency for Transit Projects||Primary Responsibility (Lead)|
|Lead CEQA Agency for Rail Projects||Primary Responsibility (Lead)||Primary Responsibility (Lead)(c)|
|Funding||Primary Responsibility (Lead)||Primary Responsibility (Lead)(e)||Secondary Responsibility (Support/Input)||Secondary Responsibility (Support/Input)||Secondary Responsibility (Support/Input)|
|Project Development Highway||Secondary Responsibility (Support/Input)||Primary Responsibility (Lead)|
|Project Development Transit||Primary Responsibility (Lead)||Secondary Responsibility (Support/Input)|
|Project Development Rail||Primary Responsibility (Lead)||Primary Responsibility (Lead)(c)||Secondary Responsibility (Support/Input)|
|State Highway Owner/Operator||Primary Responsibility (Lead)|
|Rail and Transit Owner/Operator||Primary Responsibility (Lead)||Primary Responsibility (Lead)||Primary Responsibility (Lead)|
- (a) Roles and responsibilities related to maintenance and rehabilitation will differ.
- (b) San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) owns the rail corridor from Downtown San Diego to the southern edge of Del Mar but does not operate any rail services within the NCC; however, the NCTD operates COASTER service on the MTS right-of-way as well as on the NCTD right-of-way. Additionally, the MTS is responsible for planning and prioritizing transit services in the southern area of the project corridor.
- (c) Caltrans has a primary role related to the intercity rail program.
- (d) SANDAG and Caltrans are responsible for preparing the environmental documents. Effective July 1, 2007, Caltrans has been assigned environmental review and consultation responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) pursuant to Section 6005 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) (23 U.S.C. 327). The assignment applies to all projects on the State Highway System (SHS) and all Local Assistance projects off the SHS, with the exception of responsibilities assigned for certain Categorical Exclusions under the June 7, 2007, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the FHWA, projects excluded by definition, and specific project exclusions. On projects for which Caltrans has assumed NEPA responsibilities, Caltrans has also assumed responsibility for environmental review and consultation under other federal environmental laws. The I-5 NCC project is excluded from the NEPA Pilot Program assignment under MOU 3.3.2.
- (e) Caltrans programming responsibilities are limited to programs such as Proposition 1B intercity rail funds, Amtrak and Statewide Transportation Improvement Program Interregional Improvement Program.
1.4 PWP/TREP Procedural Background
1.4.1 Senate Bill 468 (Kehoe)
On September 9, 2011, the California State Legislature approved Senate Bill 468 (SB 468)–introduced by Senator Christine Kehoe (San Diego)–which details certain requirements of the NCC PWP. SB 468 is the result of a collaborative effort–involving representatives of SANDAG, Caltrans, and the California Coastal Commission–to ensure project design and mitigation measures are included in the NCC PWP to address (among other things) coastal public access, habitat restoration projects, environmental mitigation measures, and community enhancements. The bill requires consultation with the Coastal Commission and other stakeholders on the PWP, stipulates PWP procedures for addressing improvements within areas of the Coastal Commission's retained permit jurisdiction as part of PWP implementation, and authorizes the Coastal Commission to use Section 30515 of the Public Resources Code as it relates to filing a third-party initiated LCP amendment with the Coastal Commission for the NCC PWP. In addition, several elements of the PWP/TREP have been shaped by the specific requirements of SB 468 for the NCC, including the following:
- A key provision of SB 468 requires SANDAG to recommend that Caltrans select the 8+4 Buffer Alternative as the preferred alternative for I-5 and that the determination of the preferred alternative is documented in the update to the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) and the I-5 EIR/EIS. In October 2011, SANDAG adopted the 2050 RTP confirming that the 8+4 Buffer Alternative would be expected to address transportation planning for I-5 through the close of the current RTP planning period, and Caltrans released the I-5 NCC Project Supplemental Draft EIR/EIS in August 2012, documenting and analyzing the 8+4 Buffer Alternative as the Locally Preferred Alternative for the NCC.
- As part of the PWP process, SB 468 requires SANDAG to establish a safe route to transit program to integrate the adopted regional bike plan with transit services. Accordingly, SANDAG and Caltrans undertook a Safe Access to Transit and Coastal Resources (SATCR) study, included as Appendix A of the PWP/TREP, to identify various gaps or barriers within the regional and local bicycle and pedestrian networks that limit bicycle and pedestrian access to transit services and coastal resources in the NCC. A major focus of the PWP is closing those gaps through completing and enhancing bicycle and trail connections that will increase the safety and accessibility of non-motorized travel in the NCC.
- Pursuant to SB 468, the NCC Project is defined as a 27-mile long series of projects within the coastal zone that includes improvements to a segment of I-5 and the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) rail corridor. The NCC PWP/TREP includes the 27-miles of regional mobility, community and resource enhancement projects and the specific phasing requirements for the multimodal transportation and mitigation projects for the NCC as prescribed by SB 468 to achieve a balance of transit, rail, highway, and environmental improvements in the corridor. Chapter 6 of the PWP/TREP provides the Implementation Framework and Phasing Plan for the NCC's rail, highway, community, and resource enhancement improvements to ensure that a balanced, multimodal solution for the corridor's transportation needs is implemented in conjunction with community enhancement and natural resource restoration plans. The PWP/TREP Implementation Framework and Phasing Plan was prepared in close coordination with representatives of the Coastal Commission, local governments, resource agencies, and lagoon foundations to identify the appropriate suite of projects to include in the NCC PWP/TREP and to phase implementation of the specified rail, highway, community, and resource enhancement projects to ensure highway projects do not outpace other multimodal transportation improvements for the corridor, and that proposed transportation projects do not outpace natural resources restoration and enhancement projects.
- SB 468 requires SANDAG to dedicate a portion of the TransNet Regional Habitat Conservation Fund for regional habitat acquisition, management, and monitoring activities for the NCC PWP/TREP and requires mitigation for transportation project impacts to be described in sufficient detail. The PWP/TREP's Resource Enhancement and Mitigation Program (REMP) has been prepared in close coordination with representatives of the Coastal Commission, U.S. Fish, and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Regional Water Quality Control Board, and other resource and regulatory agencies, and identifies a package of natural resource establishment, restoration, and preservation/enhancement opportunities to mitigate potential resource impacts caused by implementation of the NCC mobility and community enhancement projects. Pursuant to the REMP, funding is directed to those resource enhancements identified as addressing the most critical ecological needs in the NCC while respecting the phasing of project development and mitigation needs identified in the PWP/TREP and the voter-adopted TransNet Expenditure Plan's Environmental Mitigation Program (EMP) budget for the NCC. In addition, the REMP provides for allocating EMP funds to regionally significant lagoon restoration opportunities, endowments for long-term resource maintenance needs, the formation of a Scientific Advisory Committee, and long-term monitoring of REMP implementation and success. SB 468 includes provisions to reduce environmental impacts to the NCC's coastal lagoons by constructing LOSSAN rail and I-5 highway bridges over lagoons concurrently unless it is determined that phased construction of lagoon bridges would be an environmentally superior alternative. In response, SANDAG and Caltrans have planned the I-5 and LOSSAN bridge optimization projects in the first phase of the PWP/TREP Phasing Plan to ensure concurrent implementation with the San Elijo Lagoon Restoration Plan. In addition, the region funded planning and design to advance the Batiquitos Lagoon I-5 bridge optimization into the first phase of the PWP/TREP Phasing Plan, and has funded the Batiquitos Lagoon LOSSAN bridge optimization (through environmental) with the goal of constructing these bridges in Batiquitos Lagoon concurrently (subject to available revenue). Additional REMP opportunities for Buena Vista Lagoon involve advancing funds to replace these lagoon bridges in the first phase of the PWP/TREP Phasing Plan, which would reduce the overall bridge widths required for staging the bridge replacements, thus reducing wetland impacts within the lagoon.
- SB 468 authorizes SANDAG to conduct, administer, and operate a value pricing high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane program on I-5. The revenues from this program would be used to offset the costs of the HOT lane program, to improve transit services, and to create high-occupancy vehicle facilities. The PWP/TREP I-5 Express Lanes, accommodated entirely within the smallest 8+4 Buffer Alternative, will provide a revenue-generating source for transit and transportation improvements while facilitating a shift from SOV drivers to carpools and transit with the incentive of free-flow travel on the Express Lanes. SB 468 further directs SANDAG/Caltrans, in consultation with local jurisdictions, to evaluate the traffic impacts of the highway project on streets and roads within the Coastal Zone. As discussed in Section 5.3 of the PWP, Caltrans conducted such an evaluation during the environmental review process for the I-5 project, with the following results projected between the No Build and Build scenarios:
- Coast Highway and El Camino Real, the two primary north-south alternatives to I-5, were projected to experience reductions in vehicle miles traveled of 17% and 10%, respectively, between the 2030 No-Build and 2030 Build scenarios.2
- Coast Highway and El Camino Real were projected to experience overall reductions in Average Daily Traffic (ADT) of 12% and 3%, respectively, between the 2035 No-Build and 2035 Build scenarios.3
- In an analysis of 131 roadway segments–including key arterials and intersections selected jointly by Caltrans and corridor cities–the proposed highway improvements were shown to have negligible impacts on local traffic, with 68 of the 131 segments (52%) experiencing either decreases or no change in 2030 ADT between the No Build and Build scenarios. An additional 51 segments (39%) were projected to experience ADT increases if less than 10%. Only 12 (9%) of the local NCC roadways would experience increases in ADT of over 10%.4
- Even with increases in ADT on some roadways, only 3 segments (2%) that were under capacity in the 2030 No Build scenario were projected to exceed capacity in the 2030 Build scenario. Eighty-five segments that were under capacity in the 2030 No Build scenario remained under capacity in the 2030 Build scenario and five segments that were over capacity in the 2030 No Build scenario are projected to be under capacity in the 2030 Build scenario.5
- A study of traffic level of service at 75 key intersections near freeway access points showed either improvement or no change at 73 intersections (97%) in the morning peak period and 68 intersections (91%) in the evening peak period, when comparing the 2030 No Build and 2030 Build scenarios.6
Taken together, these data indicate that the capacity improvements on I-5–by providing a better option for north-south travel than local roads–actually will help to relieve traffic congestion in the NCC's communities.
1.4.2 Public Works Projects
Section 30114 of the Coastal Act defines public works, in part, as:
-(b) All public transportation facilities, including streets, roads, highways, public parking lots and structures, ports, harbors, airports, railroads, and mass transit facilities and stations, bridges, trolley wires, and other related facilities. For purposes of this division, neither the Ports of Hueneme, Long Beach, Los Angeles, nor San Diego Unified Port District nor any of the developments within these ports shall be considered public works.
-(c) All publicly financed recreational facilities, all projects of the State Coastal Conservancy, and any development by a special district.
Section 30605 of the Coastal Act states, in part:
-To promote greater efficiency for the planning of any public works or state university or college or private university development projects and as an alternative to project-by-project review, plans for public works or state university or college or private university long-range land use development plans may be submitted to the commission for review in the same manner prescribed for the review of local coastal programs outlined in Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 30500).
The PWP/TREP proposes to improve and maintain existing public transportation facilities of regional, state, and national significance, including transit, local roadways, highways, pedestrian, and bicycle facilities. The PWP/TREP also includes projects and measures to enhance and restore regionally significant coastal resources. All PWP/TREP program improvements would use public funds for implementation. Therefore, all of the program components and individual projects of the PWP/TREP meet the definition of a public works project.
1.4.3 Federal Consistency Review
Section 307 of the CZMA details the types of activities that require federal consistency review. These include:
-307(c)(3) (A) After final approval by the Secretary of a state's management program, any applicant for a required Federal license or permit to conduct any activity, in or outside of the coastal zone, affecting any land or water use or natural resource of the coastal zone of that state shall provide in the application to the licensing or permitting agency a certification that the proposed activity complies with the enforceable policies of the state's approved program and that such activity will be conducted in a manner consistent with the program. At the same time, the applicant shall furnish to the state or its designated agency a copy of the certification, with all necessary information and data. Each coastal state shall establish procedures for public notice in the case of all such certifications and, to the extent it deems appropriate, procedures for public hearings in connection therewith. At the earliest practicable time, the state or its designated agency shall notify the Federal agency concerned that the state concurs with or objects to the applicant's certification. If the state or its designated agency fails to furnish the required notification within six months after receipt of its copy of the applicant's certification, the state's concurrence with the certification shall be conclusively presumed. No license or permit shall be granted by the Federal agency until the state or its designated agency has concurred with the applicant's certification or until, by the state's failure to act, the concurrence is conclusively presumed, unless the Secretary, on his initiative or upon appeal by the applicant, finds, after providing a reasonable opportunity for detailed comments from the Federal agency involved and from the state, that the activity is consistent with the objectives of this chapter or is otherwise necessary for the interest of national security.
-307(d) Application of local governments for Federal assistance; relationship of activities with approved management programs State and local governments submitting applications for Federal assistance under other Federal programs, in or outside of the coastal zone, affecting any land or water use of natural resource of the coastal zone shall indicate the views of the appropriate state or local agency as to the relationship of such activities to the approved management program for the coastal zone. Such applications shall be submitted and coordinated in accordance with the provisions of section 6506 of Title 31. Federal agencies shall not approve proposed projects that are inconsistent with the enforceable policies of a coastal state's management program, except upon a finding by the Secretary that such project is consistent with the purposes of this chapter or necessary in the interest of national security.
A federal consistency certification is required for the proposed PWP/TREP as SANDAG and Caltrans, the agencies initiating PWP/TREP projects, are non-federal agencies and the PWP/TREP program improvements require a number of federal permits, federal authorization, and/or federal funding. In addition, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and other federal agencies' procedures require the Coastal Commission's concurrence with the consistency certification prior to issuing licenses, permits or conducting an activity affecting the coastal zone.
1.4.4 Local Coastal Programs and Amendments
Section 30605 of the Coastal Act states in pertinent part:
- If any plan for public works or state university or college development project is submitted prior to certification of the local coastal programs for the jurisdictions affected by the proposed public works, the commission shall certify whether the proposed plan is consistent with Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 30200)… If any such plan for public works is submitted after the certification of local coastal programs, any such plan shall be approved by the commission only if it finds, after full consultation with the affected local governments, that the proposed plan for public works is in conformity with certified local coastal programs in jurisdictions affected by the proposed public works.
Section 30605 of the Coastal Act and Title 14, Section 13356 of California Code of Regulations provide that where a PWP is submitted prior to certification of the LCP for the jurisdiction affected by the PWP, the standard of review for certification of the PWP is the Chapter 3 policies of the Coastal Act. Section 30605 and Section 13357 of the Code of Regulations also state that where a PWP is submitted after the certification of an LCP for the jurisdiction affected by the PWP, the PWP shall be approved by the Coastal Commission only if it finds, after full consultation with the affected local government(s), that it conforms with the certified LCP. Within the corridor, there are four cities with fully certified LCPs that would be affected by proposed PWP improvements: San Diego, Encinitas, Carlsbad, and Oceanside (the PWP projects will not be located in any portion of the city of Del Mar covered by the city's certified LCP, and Solana Beach has a certified Land Use Plan (LUP) but does not currently have a certified Local Implementation Plan, and as such does not yet have a fully certified LCP). Therefore, pursuant to Section 30605 of the Coastal Act, the standard of review for portions of the NCC PWP/TREP improvements occurring in these cities, excluding rail projects subject to federal consistency review only and projects located in the Coastal Commission's permit jurisdiction, is that the proposed PWP is in conformance with the certified LCP of each respective city.
In cases where PWP improvements are inconsistent with an applicable LCP, the Coastal Act allows agencies authorized to undertake a public works project to request an LCP amendment to ensure consistency.
Section 30515 of the Coastal Act provides:
- Any person authorized to undertake a public works project or proposing an energy facility development may request any local government to amend its certified local coastal program if the purpose of the proposed amendment is to meet public needs of an area greater than that included within such certified local coastal program that had not been anticipated by the person requesting at the time the local coastal program was before the commission for certification. If, after review, the local government determines that the amendment requested would be in conformity with the policies of this division, it may amend its certified local coastal program as provided in Section 30514.
If the local government does not amend its local coastal program, such person may file with the commission a request for an amendment which shall set forth the reasons why the proposed amendment is necessary and how such amendment is in conformity with the policies of this division. The local government shall be provided an opportunity to set forth the reasons for its action. The commission may, after public hearing, approve and certify the proposed amendment if it finds, after a careful balancing of social, economic, and environmental effects, that to do otherwise would adversely affect the public welfare, that a public need of an area greater than that included within the certified local coastal program would be met, that there is no feasible, less environmentally damaging alternative way to meet such need, and that the proposed amendment is in conformity with the policies of this division.
Pursuant to SB 468 and Section 30515 of the Coastal Act–as implemented by Section 13666 of the Code of Regulations and with a concurring preliminary determination of the executive director of the Coastal Commission–SANDAG and Caltrans have the option to file an LCP amendment with the Coastal Commission for the NCC PWP. Where the NCC PWP projects necessitate an amendment to a certified LCP to incorporate map changes or revisions to land use policies and development standards, the standard of review is the Chapter 3 policies of the Coastal Act. The review standard for proposed changes to the implementation plan of a certified LCP (i.e., zoning map, zoning designation, and development standard amendments) is that the proposed amendment conforms with and is adequate to implement provisions of the LUP element of the LCP.
1.4.5 Coastal Development Permits
NCC PWP projects located within city areas where an LCP has yet to be certified (often referred to as areas of "deferred certification" or "white holes"), and all projects located within Solana Beach are subject to the jurisdiction of the Coastal Commission with respect to the coastal development permit-review process unless they are authorized in the PWP and through a NOID approved by the Coastal Commission. Similarly, a number of the proposed PWP improvements would span the lagoons in the corridor and are therefore within areas where the Coastal Commission has retained permit jurisdiction as defined by lagoon tidelands and areas subject to the public trust. In these areas, NCC PWP projects are subject to separate coastal development permit requirements administered by the Coastal Commission, for which the standard of review is the Chapter 3 policies of the Coastal Act with the PWP/TREP providing guidance for that review.
1.4.6 Public Works Plan (PWP) Process
Section 30605 of the Coastal Act states in pertinent part:
- …Where a plan for public works…has been certified by the Commission, any subsequent review by the Commission of a specific project contained in the certified plan shall be limited to imposing conditions consistent with Section 30607 and 30607.1…
Section 30607 further provides:
- Any permit that is issued or any development or action approved on appeal, pursuant to this chapter, shall be subject to reasonable terms and conditions in order to ensure that such development or action will be in accordance with the provisions of this division.
Sections 30605 and 30607 of the Coastal Act establish that the standard of review for specific public works projects approved by the Coastal Commission as part of a PWP is that such projects are consistent with the approved PWP. Sections 30605 and 30607 also provide that the Coastal Commission's subsequent review of projects submitted pursuant to a certified PWP is limited to imposing conditions intended to ensure the projects are carried out consistent with the certified PWP; such projects do not require coastal development permits.
Consistency determinations are made by the Coastal Commission and are subject to public review and comment. Sections 30605 and 30606 of the Coastal Act and Title 14, Section 13359 of the California Code of Regulations govern the Coastal Commission's review process for development proposed pursuant to a certified PWP. Section 30606 of the Coastal Act requires the public agency proposing the public works project to provide a NOID to the Coastal Commission (and other interested parties, organizations, and governmental agencies) and data demonstrating the project is consistent with the certified PWP. Once a NOID is deemed complete, it is scheduled for a public hearing and the Coastal Commission determines whether the project is included in the certified PWP and whether conditions are required to bring the project into conformance with the approved PWP. No construction is permitted until the Coastal Commission finds the proposed project is consistent with the certified PWP. Chapter 6 of this PWP/TREP describes in more detail the NOID and PWP amendment process, including submittal requirements, regulatory thresholds, and review procedures.
This NCC PWP/TREP also incorporates an administrative process for operational projects and/or activities that do not require a NOID or PWP/TREP amendment but which constitute development under the Coastal Act. The administrative process is intended to facilitate the approval of projects and/or activities that are minor and required for ongoing repair and maintenance of facilities. Chapter 6 addresses the types of activities covered by this administrative process and describes those activities that must include notice and opportunity to comment by the Coastal Commission, as well as those that require notice only and may be implemented without discretionary Coastal Commission review.
1.4.7 Public Review and Comment
The PWP/TREP is the result of more than 10 years of collaboration and public input about how to comprehensively improve the NCC. The Preliminary Draft PWP/TREP, first released to the public in June 2010, was updated to reflect input from the public, local cities, resource agencies, and the Coastal Commission. Release of the Updated Draft PWP/TREP in March 2013 initiated the public review and comment period on the Draft PWP/TREP, which will continue throughout the Coastal Commission review process. The draft document was distributed for the initial agency and public review and comment for 60 days, during which time it was presented at two public workshops to solicit feedback and to answer questions. The Draft PWP/TREP was further revised based on comments received during the comment period prior to finalizing the document for submittal to the California Coastal Commission, at which point the Coastal Commission will consider the document and conduct additional environmental analysis pursuant to its certified regulatory program under the CEQA. Members of the public are invited to review and provide comments on how the Draft NCC PWP/TREP affects coastal access and other coastal resources in the corridor, which will be considered by the California Coastal Commission for consistency with applicable Local Coastal Programs and the California Coastal Act.
1.4.8 Environmental Review
Section 30605 of the Coastal Act allows PWPs to be submitted to the Coastal Commission for review in the same manner prescribed for the review of LCPs as set forth in Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 30500 of the Coastal Act). Section 21080.5 of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) exempts local governments from requiring preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) in connection with preparing LCPs. Rather, CEQA compliance responsibilities are assigned to the Coastal Commission's LCP review and approval process, which has been found by the Secretary of the Resources Agency to be functionally equivalent to the EIR process.
As an agency with a certified regulatory program under CEQA Section 21080.5, the Coastal Commission must consider alternatives and mitigation measures that would substantially lessen any significant adverse environmental effects that a proposed project under their jurisdiction would have on the environment. Sections 13371 and 13356(b)(2) of California Code of Regulations Title 14 require that the Coastal Commission not approve or adopt a PWP unless it finds that there are no feasible alternatives or feasible mitigation measures available that would substantially lessen significant adverse impact that the development may have on the environment.
Section 21080.5(a) of CEQA, Section 30605 of the Coastal Act and Title 14, and Section 13355 of the Coastal Commission Regulations require PWPs to include environmental information sufficient in detail to enable the Coastal Commission to determine the consistency of the plan with the policies of the Coastal Act or LCP, as applicable. Consistent with these requirements, Caltrans and the FHWA have prepared the Interstate 5 North Coast Corridor Project Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (I-5 NCC Project EIR/EIS) (June 2010) to examine the potential environmental impacts of the highway alternatives being considered. Caltrans and FHWA have also prepared an Interstate 5 North Coast Corridor Project Supplement Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Study (August 2012).
In addition, the FRA and Caltrans (as federal and state lead agencies) prepared the Los Angeles to San Diego (LOSSAN) Final Program EIR/EIS (September 2007) for the proposed rail corridor improvements. This document analyzes and discloses potential environmental effects and benefits of the proposed rail program and its alternatives. Given the level of analysis in the Program EIR/EIS for the LOSSAN Improvement Project, decisions to advance and construct the proposed rail improvements may require additional environmental review under NEPA and additional, phased federal consistency review under the CZMA.
Finally, SANDAG has prepared a Program EIR to evaluate the potential environmental effects associated with SANDAG's adoption and implementation of the 2050 RTP and its Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS). The 2050 RTP/SCS outlines projects for rail and bus services, highways, local streets, bicycling, and walking, as well as systems and demand management for the region. In addition, the SCS, adopted as part of its RTP, serves to align regional transportation, housing, and land use planning to reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled to attain the regional greenhouse gas reduction target. The 2050 RTP follows the previously adopted 2030 RTP which addressed much of the same analysis as the 2050 RTP, with the exception of the SCS element which was not a requirement at the time it was adopted.
On December 20, 2012, the San Diego Superior Court entered a judgment finding that the EIR for the 2050 RTP is legally inadequate in certain limited respects. SANDAG has appealed the judgment to the Court of Appeal. While the applicants respectfully disagree that there are any inadequacies in the EIR for the 2050 RTP and anticipate that the judgment may be overturned on appeal, this PWP/TREP has been drafted to avoid the narrow alleged deficiencies the Court found in the EIR for the 2050 RTP.
The Coastal Commission's environmental analysis for the PWP/TREP may draw on facts from the EIR for the 2050 RTP and on facts from the draft EIR for the I-5 North Coast Corridor Project. However, the Coastal Commission's analysis does not tier from these EIRs or rely on the EIRs' certification. The NCC PWP/TREP project includes a subset of the projects included in the 2050 RTP and, pursuant to the requirements of SB 468 and the Coastal Act, includes a number of expanded and enhanced non-vehicular transportation improvements specifically designed and located to meet the multi-modal needs of the NCC while minimizing vehicle miles traveled. The Coastal Commission will conduct its own independent CEQA review under its certified regulatory program before considering whether to approve the PWP/TREP pursuant to the Coastal Act. The Coastal Commission's environmental analysis will focus on the project proposed in the PWP/TREP and its reasonably foreseeable consequences.
The EIR for the 2050 RTP was invalidated mainly because it allegedly (1) failed to adequately analyze greenhouse gas emissions against Executive Order S-03-05's requirement to reduce greenhouse gases 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050; and (2) failed to identify sufficient legally enforceable mitigation measures for greenhouse gas emissions.
In analyzing a project under its CEQA certified regulatory program, the Coastal Commission assesses a project's consistency with the policies of the Coastal Act and certified LCPs. Therefore, the policies of the Coastal Act are used as significance criteria. While there is no Coastal Act policy that specifically discusses greenhouse gas emissions, those that would implicate greenhouse gas emissions are the following:
New development shall do all of the following:
(c) Be consistent with requirements imposed by an air pollution control district or the State Air Resources Board as to each particular development.
(d) Minimize energy consumption and vehicle miles traveled.
(Coastal Act section 30253.)
In addition, SB 468 requires the PWP/TREP to "be consistent with the countywide goals and objectives in the adopted Sustainable Communities Strategy for San Diego County and the greenhouse gas reduction targets established by the State Air Resources Board for San Diego, consistent with Senate Bill 375 (Ch. 728, Stats. 2008), as well as other regional, statewide, and national transportation and environmental quality goals."
Section 5.1, Energy Conservation and Emissions Reduction, of the PWP/TREP includes an analysis of consistency with Coastal Act Section 30253, the Sustainable Communities Strategy, and SB375. In addition, the PWP/TREP includes an analysis of vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions that are expected to occur under the plan through 2050 and a discussion and analysis of Executive Order S-03-05. As noted previously, the PWP/TREP includes a smaller set of projects than those included in the 2050 RTP and includes a number of expanded and enhanced non-vehicular transportation improvements specifically designed and located in the corridor to meet the multi-modal needs of the NCC while minimizing vehicle miles traveled and corresponding energy consumption and air emissions. Furthermore, the PWP/TREP includes specific, enforceable mitigation measures for greenhouse gas emissions for projects included in the PWP/TREP.
The Coastal Commission will use this information, and other information it obtains, and the analysis it conducts through its CEQA certified regulatory program, to evaluate the PWP/TREP's consistency with the Coastal Act and with SB 468.
1.5 PWP/TREP Scope and Structure
The NCC PWP/TREP is a single, integrated document prepared to accomplish the common goal of establishing a framework for comprehensive planning, review and coastal permitting of the NCC's transportation, community and resource enhancement projects. Other than differences in the procedural language contained in Chapter 1 and Chapters 4 through 6 regarding how the document will be utilized via either federal consistency review, the PWP approval process, or the coastal development permit process, the language within the document is identical among PWP or TREP sections. This redundancy is especially important to emphasize for the Phasing and Implementation portions of the PWP/TREP.
The TREP section of the document provides the mechanism for federal consistency review and conflict resolution to ensure the overall NCC PWP/TREP is consistent with applicable CCMP/Coastal Act policies. Chapter 3 policies of the Coastal Act provide the standard of review for the federal consistency certification.
The PWP section of the document provides the mechanism for coastal development permitting and conflict resolution to ensure the NCC PWP is consistent with applicable Coastal Act policies and certified LCPs, as applicable. Certified LCPs (and for projects within the City of Solana Beach, the Chapter 3 policies of the Coastal Act) provide the standard of review for the PWP. Following approval of the PWP, the PWP with subsequent NOIDs will provide the standard of review and coastal permitting mechanism for all NCC PWP projects (i.e., projects that are both subject to coastal development permit requirements and located outside areas of the Coastal Commission's retained jurisdiction).
1.5.1 Integrated PWP/TREP Process
Consistent with SB 468, the PWP/TREP includes all NCC projects to provide an overview and linkages to the entire NCC program to ensure that rail, highway, community enhancement, and required mitigation projects are appropriately linked, phased and implemented. The overall NCC PWP/TREP-approval process is illustrated in Figure 1-1. As illustrated in Figure 1-1, the PWP/TREP specifies that 1) pursuant to the TREP, rail projects will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine whether the Coastal Commission's review of those projects will be limited to the federal consistency review process only; 2) all projects located in areas of the Coastal Commission's retained permit jurisdiction are subject to review by the Coastal Commission through the coastal development permit review process or federal consistency review process, as applicable; and 3) all other NCC projects are subject to review by the Coastal Commission through the PWP review process. The PWP/TREP phasing plan and PWP/NOID requirements serve to plan, track, and report to the Coastal Commission the progress of rail, highway, community enhancement and resource enhancement projects, though it is not anticipated to be an entirely static document, and each of those elements may change as more detail emerges as to funding, the detail of the projects or new or modified projects are added.
The PWP/TREP includes adequate information about all components of the NCC PWP/TREP, including rail, highway, transit, bicycle, pedestrian, community, and resource enhancement projects; project phasing; impacts; and mitigation for conflict resolution. However, an adequate level of project detail to conduct project-specific federal consistency review for the PWP/TREP is not available for some of the components of the NCC PWP/TREP at this time. Given the program level of detail available for rail projects that the PWP/TREP indicates will be handled solely through federal consistency review, it is expected that federal consistency review for such rail improvements will be conducted in a phased manner. Similarly, rail projects that may be processed through the PWP (and conceptual highway, bike and pedestrian enhancement components of the PWP) may be subject to future PWP amendment and NOIDs to ensure consistency with the approved PWP; SANDAG/Caltrans may choose (in consultation with the Coastal Commission and city) to submit a coastal development permit application to the appropriate permitting agency. All projects (regardless of approval process) are included in the PWP/TREP for implementation, phasing, and monitoring purposes.
As discussed in the PWP/TREP procedural background discussion and illustrated in Figure 1-1, approval and implementation of the NCC improvements will require multiple and sequential approvals by the Coastal Commission. The Coastal Commission will first review the NCC PWP/TREP federal consistency certification (TREP), followed by any necessary LCP amendments and then the proposed PWP. Individual coastal development permits will also require review and approval by the Coastal Commission for NCC lagoon bridges, community enhancement, and restoration projects located in the Coastal Commission's area of retained jurisdiction.
Chapter 6 of the PWP/TREP includes an implementation framework that identifies NCC projects within the Coastal Commission's area of retained jurisdiction as well as a guidance process for obtaining coastal development permits for these projects, as applicable. In addition, Chapter 6 of the PWP/TREP includes an implementation framework that identifies the type and location of rail projects that, pursuant to the TREP, will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine whether the Commission's review of those projects will be limited to the federal consistency review process only and includes a guidance process for obtaining federal consistency review for these identified rail projects, as applicable. Chapter 6 of the PWP/TREP also establishes the process by which the Coastal Commission's requirements and findings regarding project design and mitigation measures included in the PWP/TREP may be applied to subsequent coastal development permit approvals and/or federal consistency review for NCC projects and measures, as applicable.
1.5.2 Local Coastal Program Amendments
Where PWP projects that are subject to review pursuant to certified LCPs are determined to result in potential inconsistencies with the corridor cities' certified LCPs, LCP amendments are proposed concurrently with the PWP review process.
The PWP/TREP serves two primary functions in relation to the NCC's certified LCPs. First, it provides both an overview and sufficient detail of the entire NCC PWP/TREP to allow the Coastal Commission to consider whether applying Coastal Act policies to an application for approval of the PWP/TREP would result in conflicts between one or more Chapter 3 policies of the Coastal Act. The PWP/TREP provides a specific, factual scenario that can be incorporated by reference into the various individual LCP amendments so that the Coastal Commission can consider whether conflicts among Coastal Act policies resulting from PWP projects would necessitate approval of the proposed, new LCP policies, resolving such conflicts in a manner that on balance–in relation to the specific PWP/TREP across the various jurisdictions at issue–is most protective of significant coastal resources. Second, this document constitutes the proposed PWP itself. As such, the amendment of the LCPs will allow the PWP to serve as Caltrans' and SANDAG's application for approval of a PWP pursuant to those new LCP policies.
As detailed throughout Chapter 5, given the potential LCP policy conflicts resulting from PWP projects, LCP amendments are proposed to resolve conflicts associated with "unpermitted use" project impacts and setback requirements for wetlands and Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas as well as other potential areas of conflict associated with coastal resource protection policies of the various certified LCPs. As such, Chapter 3 policies of the Coastal Act provide the standard of review for the LCP amendments, and conflict resolution among Chapter 3 policies are represented within the LCP amendments and the PWP. LCP amendments for the NCC PWP include the cities of Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, and San Diego, and include a narrowly defined Overlay zone specific to the proposed PWP projects consisting of highway and related community and resource enhancement projects located within these cities. Because the proposed PWP projects will not be located in any portion of the city of Del Mar covered by the city's certified LCP and the city of Solana Beach does not have a certified LCP, no LCP amendment is required for these jurisdictions as such, the standard of review for PWP projects in Del Mar and Solana Beach is the Chapter 3 policies of the Coastal Act.
The NCC PWP includes public works projects that will meet the public needs of an area greater than that included in any local permitting agency's certified local coastal program, and the project needs were not anticipated when the LCPs were certified by the California Coastal Commission. As such (and as is recognized by SB 468), California Streets and Highways Code section 103(d)(1), Caltrans, SANDAG, and the California Coastal Commission are authorized to utilize Section 30515 of the Public Resources Code for LCP amendments associated with the NCC PWP projects, and the process referenced in that section may be streamlined pursuant to agreement between the California Coastal Commission and those jurisdictions with an approved LCP.
The Coastal Commission PWP review and approval process is not intended to supplant the review processes required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other regulatory schemes; compliance with the CEQA, NEPA and/or other regulatory schemes are addressed at the project level, such as the LOSSAN Tier I Environmental Impact Statement and the I-5 Highway Improvements Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report. Refer to Section 1.4.8 for additional discussion regarding the relationship between the Coastal Commission PWP review and approval process and applicable environmental review.
- Summary of Changes
- PWP/TREP Overview
- Chapter 1 - Introduction
- Chapter 2 - Context
- Chapter 3A - The North Coast Corridor Problem
- Chapter 3B - The Corridor Vision: Project Solution
- Chapter 4 - Scope of Planned Improvements
- Section 5.0 - Coastal Development Policies and Resources
- Section 5.1 - Energy Conservation and Emissions Reduction
- Section 5.2 – Promotion of Public Transit and Smart Growth
- Section 5.3 – Public Access and Recreation
- Section 5.4 – Marine Resources: Water Quality and Wetlands
- Section 5.5 – Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas and Special-Status Species
- Section 5.6 – Archaeological and Paleontological Resources
- Section 5.7 – Coastal Visual Resources
- Section 5.8 – Site Stability and Management
- Section 5.9 – Agricultural Resources
- Section 5.10 – Coastal Act Policy Conflict Resolution
- Chapter 6A – Implementation
- Section 6B – Resource Enhancement and Mitigation
- Appendix A – Implementation
- Appendix B – Visual Resources Documentation
- Appendix B-1 – Lighting Standards
- Appendix D – San Diego Region Coastal Sea Level Rise Analysis
- Appendix E – Water Quality Technical Memorandum
- Appendix F – Agricultural Viability Analysis
- Appendix G – Transportation White Paper
- Appendix H – Resource Enhancement and Mitigation Site Assessments
- Appendix I – NCC Economic Impact Analysis
- Appendix J – Alternatives Analysis