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'Managed retreat?' 

California's beaches are enormously important to our state's character. Whether they're large swaths of sand or dramatic rocky cliffs, they're quintessential California. Best of all, our 840-miles of coastland are all public property, and it's the California Coastal Commission's (CCC) job to protect the beaches and public access to them. But what if the CCC's idea of protecting the coast means allowing million-dollar homes to slide into the sea? Ker plop!

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That's what's facing Shell Beach homeowner John Okerblom and his neighbors Tony and Marilee Hyman, who desperately need to construct a seawall to save their homes from erosion due to climate change and rising sea levels. The city of Pismo Beach said, "Coolio. Do it." Then the CCC took one look and said, "No way, Jose. Not on our watch."

Five homes line the bluff of this seaside cove, and Okerblom's residence, constructed in 2002, is the only one currently unprotected by a seawall. His unprotected stretch of cliff threatens to take out not just his home but those of his neighbors as well, who are very much on board with the idea of building Okerblom's seawall. But, according to the CCC, only homes constructed prior to Jan. 1, 1977, are allowed to build seawalls to protect their properties because people building homes after that should have accounted for erosion and built far enough way from the cliff to protect their homes for 100 years.

Um, global warming anybody? Erosion has sped up beyond what anyone predicted, and Okerblom built his home in alignment with the others in the neighborhood.

I get that the CCC is trying to protect the coast, but hells bells, when somebody's permitted through a municipality such as Pismo Beach to construct a house on a particular lot, it seems super lame that a state agency like the CCC can come along and say, "Suck it, dope. You shouldn't have been allowed to build there."

Yeah, OK, but he was allowed, and now he'd like to protect his huge investment. Are global warming and sea level rise his fault? Of course they are, partially, but should he be punished because the city and state aren't on the same page?

The CCC's stance on no new seawalls is dubbed "managed retreat," where the ocean is allowed to erode the cliff naturally and consume bluffs along the ocean. Beachfront property owners can kiss their property and investment goodbye, pack their bags, and hit the bricks as far as the CCC is concerned. The good news is, the homeowners on the other side of the street will soon have beachfront property ... for a while, anyway.

Of course, it doesn't help when property owners like Marilee Hyman claim the CCC's "automatic rule is that nobody can build a seawall, that's what they really want. They want the whole coast to be public property."

Newsflash, Marilee. It is, and you're a lucky duck to have a house perched next to it. Eco warriors who support the CCC's hardline stance are going to love pointing to your sense of entitlement as they cheer your house sliding into the drink.

And speaking of drink, I'll have what the SLO County Board of Supervisors' conservative majority's having. They just voted to send a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom to appeal to keep Diablo Canyon Power Plant open beyond Pacific Gas and Electric's (PG&E) planned 2025 decommissioning.

Who's the big brain behind this waste of time du jour? Why it's Coalition of Labor, Agriculture, and Business (COLAB) Government Affairs Director Mike Brown, who told the board they have "an opportunity to exercise leadership and advocacy on behalf of the county citizens and way beyond in this issue," and that keeping Diablo open would be "a great service."

"If you step up to this," Brown said over imaginary patriotic music with an imaginary American flag flapping in the wind behind him, "you'll feel so much better on your death bed that you took this opportunity to turn around an accumulative, ignorant policy where basically government did everything it could to interfere with licensing."

Cute, but it was PG&E's decision to close Diablo, which began construction way back in 1968, is a mile from the Shoreline fault and less than three miles from the Hosgri fault, and is storing 36 years worth of spent nuclear fuel onsite, which—don't worry—will no longer be dangerous in about a quarter of a million years. You can blame the state for making re-licensing Diablo burdensome, but closing the plant was ultimately a business decision from the company a judge called a "continuing menace" because its shoddy maintenance of equipment lead to devastating wildfires.

Naturally, 5th District Supervisor Debbie Arnold was all in and motioned to send that letter! District 4 Supervisor Lynn Compton chimed in: "I think the vast majority of our constituents in this county are very supportive of it," as if that mattered.

Only 2nd District Supervisor Bruce Gibson seemed to have a clue about what a windmill tilting farce this letter is: "The owner of this plant is not interested in pursuing a path other than its decommissioning," he correctly noted. "I think whatever effort would be put into keeping it open could better be spent putting it into accelerating the deployment of truly renewable energy."

Hey, there's an idea! Δ

The Shredder never retreats. Send renewable energy ideas to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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