Soaring real estate values along Californias 1,100 miles of coastline have created conditions where development threats to this area have never been greater. While over a thousand new coastal projects are approved annually statewide, many of these are occurring in our own highly desirable Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. Here, our sandy beaches are being washed away by seawalls, our abundant bird life and marine mammals are losing essential food sources, and all-too-frequent raw sewage spills are closing beaches, further endangering sea life. Fragile communities of endangered and threatened wildlife such as the sea otter, snowy plover, red-legged frog, Smiths blue butterfly and long-toed salamander which were once found up and down the coast now rely on a sliver of their previous habitat.
From Davenport to the southern boundaries of the Big Sur Coast, demands from development are heavily impacting the richness of wildlife as well as the spectacular scenery. Pressure to breach the previous barrier of building west of Highway 1 has never been stronger. For instance, on the Odwalla property near Davenport, developers proposed to build a 65-car parking lot on an ocean bluff popular with whale watchers. Club opposition restricted the parking to a much smaller area around the building and saved the bluff. Also, a huge disappointment to the Sierra Club, was the Coastal Commissions 5-2 decision to allow the expansion of a parking lot for the Oblates of St. Joseph on the West Cliff property adjacent to Lighthouse Field State Park in Santa Cruz. This decision was made without a proper study of the property under question.
Further concerns include seawalls, which wash away sand and have been approved and/or are being considered for Pajaro, Pebble Beach and the Big Sur coast. Construction of enormous houses that waste resources, threaten habitat and create eyesores for the public is being approved by governmental entities in many coastal communities. An example is the Bliss House which is in the viewshed of Point Lobos State Park.
What can you do to protect the biological richness of our fragile coast?
Become aware of threats in your area. Read thoroughly the articles in this newsletter and mailings from Chapter, State and National Sierra Club as well as your local newspapers. Contact your representatives and let them know you care about the coast and why you want to save it. If you have access to the internet, contact Sierra Clubs Great Coastal Places Campaign at www.sierraclub.org/ca/coasts.
Together we can protect what is left of our precious coast for future generations.