As part of a continuing effort to end the annual closures at Surf Beach, a Lompoc councilman and former mayor delivered a petition to the California Coastal Commission on Wednesday that was signed by more than 2,700 Lompoc community members.
Councilman Jim Mosby and former mayor John Linn traveled to San Luis Obispo to deliver the signed petitions — which argue for the elimination of the restrictions at Lompoc’s nearest beach — to the Coastal Commission during the first day of this month’s meetings. The move came less than two months after Lompoc City Manager Jim Throop drafted — and current Mayor Jenelle Osborne delivered — a letter to the commission asking that it not only consider eliminating the closures, but that it also open the beach up to recreational fishing.
The Coastal Commission had initially been planning to discuss Surf Beach during its July meetings, but it was announced last month that the topic was pushed back until the Dec. 11 through 13 meetings in Oxnard at the soonest.
Still, Mosby said he felt it was important to have the matter addressed, if only through public comment, at Wednesday’s Coastal Commission gathering “to show them how important this is to our community.”
If some of Lompoc’s leaders get their way, the annual closures at the city’s closest publicly accessible beach may become a thing of the past.
“We’ve got to keep trying,” he said. “Like the old saying says, ‘How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.’ So we can’t give up”
Surf Beach, located less than 10 miles west of Lompoc on Vandenberg Air Force Base property, has been routinely closed for several months at a time over the past 20 years as part of an effort to protect the Western snowy plover, a small bird species that nests at the beach and is categorized as “threatened” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Restrictions, enforced by VAFB personnel, are placed on activity at the beach during the plover’s nesting season, which runs from March through September and coincides with the warmer summer months. If violations surpass a certain level, the beach is then closed for the remainder of the nesting season.
In his comments to the Coastal Commission on Wednesday, Mosby cited “environmental justice,” which is defined in state government code as “the fair treatment of people of all races, cultures, and incomes with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.”
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A 2012 report from the California Attorney General’s office, also cited by Mosby, defines “fairness” in that context to mean that “the benefits of a healthy environment should be available to everyone, and the burdens of pollution should not be focused on sensitive populations or on communities that already are experiencing its adverse effects.”
The California Coastal Commission has postponed its discussions regarding the removal of restrictions from Surf Beach until December at the soonest, Lompoc Mayor Jenelle Osborne announced this week.
Mosby said afterward that he felt that a significant portion of the burden for the snowy plover recovery plan has been unjustly placed upon “the economically challenged community of Lompoc.”
“Also, the minority-majority community is overburdened with this recovery plan that isn’t working,” Mosby said.
A copy of the petition delivered by Mosby and Linn can be found online at surfbeachlompoc.com. Mosby asked that community members return signed petitions to the Box Shop, 740 North H St.
People can also mail letters to the Coastal Commission at 45 Fremont St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94105.
The mission of the California Coastal Commission, according to its website, is to protect and enhance the state’s coast and oceans for current and future generations “through careful planning and regulation of environmentally-sustainable development, rigorous use of science, strong public participation, education and effective intergovernmental coordination.”
The commission, which has authority on issues that include shoreline public access and recreation, meets monthly in various cities throughout the state.