As California attempts a ‘managed retreat,’ coastal homeowners sue to stay – Grist Magazine

Half Moon Bay (by Don Claus CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via Flickr).
Half Moon Bay (by Don Claus CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via Flickr).

“We’re in this dilemma of figuring out, how do you convince the community to move?” said  (Gary) Griggs.

Mirada Road is a small cul-de-sac that runs right up to the edge of the Pacific Ocean, skirting the rim of a 30-foot bluff. The townhomes on this street, which is located in Half Moon Bay, California, are separated from the sea by nothing but a pedestrian walking trail on a beach that is eroding a few inches every year.

Back in 2016, a storm sent huge waves crashing against the shoreline, destroying most of the bluff overnight and leaving the Mirada Road homes in danger of immediate collapse. The homeowners association rushed to build a rock wall that would protect their homes.

The legal battle that followed was even more turbulent than the storm. The homeowners took their case to the California Coastal Commission, which regulates all construction along the coastline, but after weighing the matter for months, the commission shot down a proposal to make the new rock wall on the bluff permanent. This seemed to be a signal that the commission didn’t think the homes on Mirada Road should stay there.

Two years later, the commission approved a land management plan for the city of Half Moon Bay that again suggested Mirada Road’s days were numbered. The document said beachfront property owners should start planning to relocate or remove their vulnerable homes. There wasn’t a timeline stipulating when they should do so, nor was there any information on who would pay for relocation.

The homeowners’ association sued the agency not once but twice, arguing both that the commission was required to protect Mirada Road under state law and that Half Moon Bay’s plan to relocate homes was unconstitutional. The locals got a favorable preliminary ruling in the first case, convincing a state court judge that the commission was in the wrong. They are now pressing the agency to settle and allow their proposed sea wall, while also pushing to overturn Half Moon Bay’s relocation plan…


Latest Posts + Popular Topics