Coastal Comission approves replacement
of failed retaining wall.

Photo: Laurie Mueller

by Charlie Murphy

At its May 12 meeting, the California Coastal Commission approved the application by Bower Limited Partnership (BLP) to construct a 105-footlong Geoweb retaining wall along the bluff behind the Surf Supermarket. This parcel contains a 25-foot-wide public access easement on which RCLC has built a section of the Gualala Bluff Trail. Construction of the wall will disturb and necessitate temporary closure of the Trail in that area.

The wall will replace a 70-foot-long wooden retaining wall that failed during 2005-2006 winter storms. The Commission approved that wall in 1983 to protect the easement because the supermarket had been built closer to the bluff edge than permitted.

Southern end of new wall design
will include replacement of the
temporary ramp built to enable RCLC
volunteers to work on the trail.
Photo: Mary Sue Ittner

Decision on Extending the wall Postponed

At the May hearing, the Commission postponed consideration of an appeal to BLP’s County permit to extend the Geoweb retaining wall across the bluff top of the adjacent northerly BLP parcel. We expect that the Commission will hear this appeal at its scheduled meeting in either September or December.

Through correspondence to the Commission prior to the meeting, RCLC addressed potential impacts of the proposed wall on public access to the Trail and recommended at the meeting that the wall’s construction, if approved, be subject to various conditions.

Special Conditions

Among the special conditions established by the Commission, BLP will be required to restore any damage to the Bluff Trail and adjoining areas caused by construction of the Geoweb wall. BLP will also be required to consult with RCLC in the preparation of the wall construction plans, and thesouthern and northern ends of the wall shall be designed to accommodate Bluff Trail crossings in their existing locations. BLP must also submit to the Commission soil stabilization and drainage improvement plans prepared in consultation with RCLC, the local chapter of the California Native Plant Society and the Mendocino Coast Cooperative Weed Management Area.

Since the approval of the permit, RCLC representatives have met twice and had several follow up communications with John Bower and George Rau, his project engineer, regarding plans for the Geoweb wall and their impact on the Bluff Trail. These interactions have been productive and consistent with the Commission’s requirements for consultation between RCLC and BLP.

We are particularly pleased that BLP, in response to RCLC’s recommendation, has retained a prominent landscape architect to devise conceptual plans for connecting the southern end of the wall to the Trail in a natural but functional way. We look forward to continuing to work diligently and cooperatively with BLP, so that the Gualala Bluff Trail can finally be completed and fully enjoyed by the public.