Last March the California Coastal Commission told CEMEX that its sand mine in Marina violates the Coastal Act. A year later, the plant is still up and running while drawn out talks between the two continue.
The mine is the last remaining coastal sand mine in the nation and it sits on the beach in the southern Monterey Bay – an area with the highest coastal erosion in the state.
Santa Cruz based non-profit Save Our Shores wants to keep pressure on agencies that could potentially close the mine. I spoke with Save Our Shores Executive Director Katherine O’Dea about a letter writing campaign they’re launching today.
Katherina O'Dea (KO): We’ve created what we are calling five protest stations that we’ll have located throughout the region. That will have a bucket of sand and directions of how to complete their protest letter. It’s actually a postcard and the postcard is done somewhat tongue and cheek suggesting to the Coastal Commission and the State Lands Commission that apparently we don’t need the sand on our beach, “so here have some”. So were asking people to scoop some sand, sign a postcard, put it in an envelope and we’ll collect them in a box. And when we have several hundred in the box we’re either going to deliver it directly at State Lands Commission meeting and a Coastal Commission meeting and or mail it into the Commissioners. So it’s a very public statement that its time for cease and desist.
KA: It’s been now a year ago when the California Coastal Commission issued the Notice of Intent to Cease and Desist and they’ve been in negotiations ever since. So would you have expected a resolution by now?
KO: Absolutely, I’m really astonished that nothing has been able to be.. you know a definitive point has not been able to be reached at this point. Now we’re not sure what they’re going to do and we’re not entirely sure what they are negotiating this point. It does seem pretty clear that CEMEX does not want to go quietly and leave their facility and stop mining. That’s only an assumption, but there’s not much else we can assume since it’s been ongoing for so long, which is why I’m pretty concerned about what we might learn in July in terms of what they do bring to the Commissioners.
KA: Tell me about the July date.
KO: That came from contacts at the Coastal Commission who are directly involved in the negotiations that that’s when they expect to bring a recommendation to the commissioners for consideration. Hopefully recommend Cease and Desist. The Commissioners would vote on it. The letter would go out and then the fireworks would really start to happen. CEMEX could choose to sue the Coastal Commission and if they were granted a stay by the court system, they could continue to operate until the that lawsuit was settled, so that could be a very long process.
KA: Publicly CEMEX has said very little throughout this process. But one thing it has said is its within its rights to take this sand. What if CEMEX is right?
KO: If it went to the court system and they rule in favor of CEMEX, that would not be a good thing for our Sanctuary, and none of us would be very happy.
Thursday, March 30th 7:00-9:00pm
Patagonia Santa Cruz, 415 River Street, Santa Cruz