Permits approved this week for already-built seawalls in Pismo Beach

The Pismo Beach Planning Commission this week unanimously approved permits for two seawalls to be built in Shell Beach, more than a month after construction on the new structures ended.

The seawalls were installed under an emergency permit issued by the Pismo Beach Community Development Director Jon Biggs in December. They were sculpted and stained to fit in with the natural bluffs and were built for about $2.3 million.

One protects a sewage pumping station at Vista del Mar and Ocean Boulevard; the other shores up Ocean Boulevard between Wawona and Capistrano avenues.

Issuance of the emergency permit allowed the city to start working on the project immediately, instead of going through a longer process to solicit competitive bids.

But the Planning Commission still had to approve the project, which it did Tuesday. State coastal commissioners now have an opportunity to appeal it.

The Planning Commission had delayed its approval so city staff could reach out to California Coastal Commission staff. The two agencies have been at loggerheads over whether the seawalls are entirely within the city’s jurisdictional boundaries.

Coastal Commission staff believes at least part of the project is in an area where the state panel has direct jurisdiction, requiring its approval of any development.

But Biggs said he supplied documents showing the project was within the city’s jurisdiction, he wrote last week in an email to the commission’s Central Coast regional director.

“We wish to continue our good working relationship with the Coastal Commission and will continue every effort to make that partnership successful,” Biggs wrote. “However, the city of Pismo Beach will do what is necessary to address emergency situations as they arise and will continue to act in a manner that protects the public, vital city infrastructure, coastal resources, and access to those coastal resources.”

Coastal Commission staff could not be immediately reached for comment.