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Pacific Coast. It is up to all of us to make sure that our children and grandchildren are ensured the gift of a preserved, wild coastline. map is for illustrative purposes only. Image: PRMD - modified
Pacific Coast. It is up to all of us to make sure that our children and grandchildren are ensured the gift of a preserved, wild coastline. map is for illustrative purposes only. Image: PRMD - modified

The Sonoma County LCP
(Local Coastal Plan)
Being Revised and Updated

Community Workshops are scheduled in  Timber Cove,
The Sea Ranch and in Santa Rosa. Nov 5-Nov 21

Oct 24, 2019
by Tim McKusick


Attention neighbors and everyone who enjoys our amazing Coast, and is interested in keeping it undeveloped and accessible to all. The Sonoma County LCP (Local Coastal Plan) is being revised and updated. Community Workshops are scheduled in Bodega Bay, Timber Cove, The Sea Ranch and in Santa Rosa. (see schedule at the end of this article)

This is our opportunity to be involved in what our precious Coastline will look like in the future.

On Sonoma County PRMD website: Coastal-Program/Proposed/ it describes current and long-range goals:


The purpose of this Local Coastal Plan Update is to revise the LCP to reflect policies related to coastal development that were adopted by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors in General Plan 2020. In addition, this LCP Update adds new information and policy in the following areas: sea level rise (2100 planning horizon), biotic resources, geologic hazards, water quality, and public access.

The goal of the update is to produce a modern, up-to-date, and easy-to-use document with digital maps. The Update focuses on new information, changed conditions, and policies in these key areas:

•  Agricultural Resources

•  Public Access

•  Sea Level Rise

•  Biotic Resources

•  Geologic Hazards

•  Water Quality

The intent of the Local Coastal Plan Update is not to encourage new or increased development. The current Local Coastal Plan meets the goals of the California Coastal Act to preserve coastal resources, and this Update continues the existing protections.

Public Process and Next Steps

From the beginning of the County’s Local Coastal Program, there has been strong citizen participation. The County welcomes and encourages continued public participation in the Local Coastal Program update process. Permit Sonoma staff and consultants are now in the process of updating the Local Coastal Plan, with multiple opportunities for public comment.

The Preliminary Draft Local Coastal Plan (LCP) was published in June 2015, and five public workshops were held during the summer of 2015. The Public Review Draft is available for review with public workshops to introduce the plan scheduled to begin in fall 2019. Public hearings will be scheduled before the Planning Commission, Board of Supervisors, and California Coastal Commission meetings.

I encourage all to read this, an important CA Coastal Commission document regarding Public Access:   to get an idea of the (brief) history of efforts to retain Public Access Rights to our World-Class Coastline. It has been an uphill battle for Public’s Rights all along the way.

Back in the 1970’s, against all odds, the People Prevailed in halting rampant exploitation of the precious resource that is our Pacific Coast. It is up to all of us to make sure that our children and grandchildren are ensured the gift of a preserved, wild coastline. It is  more and more valuable every day; a rare place of healing and respite in this ever-changing and chaotic world.

Locally, I have witnessed the disappearance of most of the coastal accesses that were once taken for granted as being there forever. When I moved out here, the Timber Cove security person gave me a map of several access’ and ‘climb-downs’ to use.

My Realtor (Hatsy Beardsley, so close to the developer that Harriette Court is named after her) told us that Cormorant Point, across the cove to the north of Timber Cove Resort (Inn) would be the site of the Community Clubhouse, and that the natural trail down to the sandy beach below would be ours to use. She also pointed out that just up the street (Ninive) was an easement to the bluff-edge for a future staircase access.

It turns out that the clubhouse site would be later sold to a SoCal developer, and along with it went the community beach and access. And now, our Ninive and other trail easements are under attack by local NIMBY’s.

When our kids were little, we would walk down from our property on the East side of the highway, to the view spot where we would watch the whales as they traversed our rocky shoreline, and the fishing and urchin-harvesting boats working our kelp beds and the bounty from below. So many amazing memories.

Whale watching at Bodega Head. Once you see just one pod travel through, the waiting is worthwhile. Photo: one occasion, we were watching an urchin diver, at the end of a long breathing tube, and his boat-hand, who manned the air compressor, as their boat bobbed in the ocean kelp-beds just off- shore. With the diver in the water, and the helper up in the boat’s rigging, swaying gently back and forth.

We spotted some whale spouts to the South, with the whales hugging the rocky shoreline. As they got closer, it appeared to be two big whales and a small one; probably the baby, mom and aunt, heading North hugging the shoreline to protect the young calf from Orcas and other predators.

It became clear that the whales were going to pass very close to the small boat. The whales would spout a few times and then dive, appearing in a minute or two, closer and closer with each dive.

When they got to the boat, the whales dove, seemingly between the boat and the diver! We could hear the boat-hand shout out: Ohhh Sh-tttt!! as he looked down on the whales swimming by. I can just imagine the diver as these huge shadows went overhead. A humbling experience, I am sure.

Another time, we were sitting there a long time with no whale sightings. As we were getting up to leave, we heard a loud SWOOSH sound coming from below the cliffs. We ran over there to see a huge whale, lounging below with kelp covering its back and blow-hole. The swooshing was this beautiful creature breathing.

Whales are amazing to watch and experience. Photo by Tim Nooteboom from FreeImages

We are lucky to have these memories, as these places that brought us so much pleasure, simply connecting with Nature’s

Wonders, are now off-limits, having been methodically fenced - off over the years as the bluff-top properties were developed.

These ‘safeguards’ afforded us in Coastal Protection Plans and local CC&R’s were only as good as those in charge of enforcing them.

Currently locally, we have a group in charge of the HOA who are declaring the 55+ year-old hiking easements in Timber Cove as being (somehow) illegal. Coincidently, most of this (selfish) group have lucrative VRBO’s and Air B&B’s near the trail easements and don’t want the pesky local hikers to disturb their high-priced clients. They openly tout an exemption in the Coastal Zone, allowing them to operate without normal County Oversight. (A topic for the LCP, for sure!)

Sad. But shows you that we have to be diligent in our quest for an open coast for all to enjoy. BTW, the Timber Cove Trail Support Group has asked a judge to decide if the easements are valid or not. So, instead of participating in the community - dividing, vindictive scenario that is orchestrated by the anti-trail folks, they can sit back and wait for justice and sanity to prevail. (after paying attorneys tens of thousands of dollars, needlessly, of course!)

Separated trail needed - Bicyclist in lane of traffic on Highway 116, Russian River Corridor. Image:

The Russian River Bike Trail is an idea whose time has come. Bicycle traffic along the River and Coast has increased dramatically in recent years. “Bicycle-Trek” companies have a good business, offering tours through the Redwoods and along the coast, with its jaw-dropping views.

It always amazes me when I see the groups of novice bike-riders, riding along narrow, shoulder-less Hwy 1, sharing the lanes with cars, trucks, RV’s & trailers, protected by little more than a bike helmet, an orange safety vest and a tremendous faith in their fellow man, to Not knock them into the ditch or over the cliff.

A Coastal Bike Trail makes so much sense, and is long overdue. I feel that a multi-agency collaboration could make it a reality.

Visualize this: A bike path that follows utility and highway easements along our entire coastline. Under this pathway would be ductwork for power and communication wires.

No longer would we have to endure unsightly telecom cables clogging up our scenic corridors, and by having them underground, maintenance and access for upgrading the cables would be a breeze. Wherever possible, PG&E wires would be undergrounded as well. Emergency call-boxes would be easy to install.

As this is also a Federal Scenic Corridor, perhaps Federal $$ could be tapped to help. Working together, we can make this a reality. Think of the tourist $$ this safe scenic bike route would bring to our County.

Workshop Schedule:

Timber Cove, November 5, 2019 from 6:00 PM-8:00 PM at the Timber Cove Fire Station, 30800 Seaview Road, Cazadero;

The Sea Ranch, November 17, 2019 from 12:00 PM- 2:00 PM at the Del Mar Hall, 40600 Leeward Road, The Sea Ranch

Santa Rosa, November 21, 2019 from 1:20 PM at the Permit Sonoma Hearing Room, 2550 Ventura Avenue, Santa Rosa



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