The last-second discovery of a technical but critical miscalculation about the location of a key boundary line has blown up in the faces of county solid waste planners who’ve spent 15 years trying to expand the shelf life of the county’s Tajiguas Landfill by building a new complex of three separate recycling operations. This mistake initially came to light two months ago as county administrators prepared the paperwork to seek financing for the $110 million construction project. They discovered that the state’s Coastal Zone Boundary line intruded 173 yards farther inland than county solid waste planners believed. In the short-term, that renders permits null and void. What that means in the long term remains a matter of intense conjecture, but Ed Easton of the Gaviota Coast Conservancy declared the project “dead in the water.”
The Conservancy has opposed any efforts to prolong the life of Tajiguas, arguing to do so further industrializes the coast and violates a supervisors’ vote in 1999 to that effect. At the very least, however, this discovery has brought to a screeching halt county efforts to apply for financing. Under state law, the California Coastal Commission has jurisdiction for any development within the state’s coastal zone. County administrators state they’ll need 45 days to sort out their options for moving forward. Under Coastal Commission rules, industrial developments are allowed only if they cater to “ocean dependent uses.” When county officials learned of their error, they asked the Coastal Commission for permission to redraw the boundary lines. On March 29, the Coastal Commission rejected this request, stating it “patently fails” to meet commission requirements for such a modification.