Coastal Commission allows Cemex time for California coastal mine defence

The California Coastal Commission, after sending a notice March 17 of an intent to issue a cease and desist order to the Cemex sand mine in Marina, has granted the company a one-month extension to respond with its statement of defense, the Monterey County News reports

The original deadline for the statement was April 6; the new deadline is May 6.  Coastal Commission spokeswoman Noaki Schwartz, in an email, writes: “This happens in enforcement cases and is not unusual. Cemex had a short time to respond on a very complex situation so it’s not unexpected that they may want more time.

“The new deadline…can be extended again if we feel we are making progress and having productive conversations with them,” she adds.

The March 17 letter outlined the many ways in which the sand mine operation is violating both the Coastal Act and the Land Use Plan portion of Marina’s Local Coast Plan. It stated that aspects of the sand mine operation are unpermitted “new development” that is creating past and ongoing damage to coastal resources.

The mine, which is the only remaining coastal sand mine in the country, has long been assailed for its impact on coastal erosion, and has been identified as the primary reason southern Monterey Bay has the highest coastal erosion rate in the state. The commission’s letter highlights that impact.

“The unpermitted development…decreases the amount of sand on the Monterey Bay shoreline, and narrows beaches within Monterey Bay,” it reads. “Narrower beaches lead existing development to have a greater susceptibility to erosion by wave action, potentially impacting the stability of existing development.”

In its statement of defense, Cemex will have to specify which of the Coastal Commission’s allegations the company admits to, and which ones they deny or have no knowledge of. Additionally, the company has the opportunity to respond with relevant facts that might mitigate or absolve its responsibility for the violations.

If a cease and desist order is ultimately issued, Cemex will face fines of several thousands of dollars for every day the mine remains in operation.

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