After a two-year battle over a thick environmental report, the debate over the future of the popular Lawson’s Landing ocean-front resort in Dillon Beach, Calif., cleared a key procedural hurdle Monday (Jan. 28), according to the Marin Independent Journal, San Rafael, Calif..
County planning commissioners agreed to certify the study, a 10-inch-thick stack of documents. Their 7-0 vote opens the door for the resort’s owners to submit revised plans for improvements and conservation of the 940-acre site.
Scott Hochstrasser, the resort owners’ planning consultant, said the report and its various drafts weigh more than 60 pounds.
While local environmental groups criticized the study’s weighty content, they also agreed that it is time to move the debate to the merits of the owners’ plans.
“The real question is, is it time to move on to the merits? I, myself, have concluded it is,” said Commissioner Don Dickenson. “I look at the stack of documents here and wonder how much bigger we can make it.”
Monday’s vote was a milestone in a process that started in the 1970s to develop a master plan for the resort. That plan will also include bringing current uses up to modern-day codes and standards, such as upgrading its sewage disposal system and measures protecting the dunes and habitat areas.
Carl Vogler, whose family owns the resort with the Lawson family, said he’s hoping a revised master plan – responding to many of the issues raised in the environmental report – can be submitted in March.
He estimated that the resort has already spent more than $1 million on plans, reports and studies.
The county board of supervisors is slated to vote on the environmental report Feb. 26.
Vogler estimated that 20,000 to 30,000 people visit Lawson’s Landing every year. For many people, the campground provides affordable access to the oceanfront.
The Voglers and the Lawsons want the new master plan to preserve that access, he said. “That’s what we’ve been about forever,” he said.
The master plan focuses on about 180 acres of the site, areas now used for trailers, recreational vehicles and a large campground.
Environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, the Marin Conservation League, the California Native Plant Society, the Point Reyes Station-based Environmental Action Committee and Audubon Canyon Ranch, criticized the environmental report, but urged the commission to move ahead.
The groups have pressed for tougher restrictions on the use of the resort to provide greater protection for the dunes and wetlands.