Beach: The Beach Club was granted unanimous approval to bring their building up to code. Courtesy image

Coastal Commission granted the Santa Monica Beach Club a permit to carry out significant renovations under the condition that the Club remedies practices commissioners feel impede public beach access.

With the Commission’s go-ahead the Beach Club is now able to undertake a seismic retrofitting of the entire building and remodeling of two kitchen areas and an employee service area.

As part of the renovation agreement, the Club will construct two view corridors providing visual access to the beach from PCH and remove several unpermitted structures.

These steps aim to ensure that nonmembers understand there is a public beach area below the Club and can access it with ease.

Commission questions around public beach access stem from the status of the Club’s land. The Club owns three land parcels adjacent to the PCH and leases two sand areas from the State. Any area below Club land, which ends above the bike trail, is publicly accessible.

According to the Commission, the Club has unpermitted structures on both its privately owned land and its leased land. As part of the renovation agreement, the Club will remove unpermitted structures on its leased land, which include a fenced volleyball court, storage shed, outdoor tent, and private property signs.

“On the leased land parcels an unpermitted private encroachment can adversely impact public access by leading the public, particularly to those who utilize the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, to believe that the leased land areas are privately owned,” said Coastal Program Analyst Amrita Spencer.

The Club holds a lease to these areas until 2050, when it could hypothetically become public land. This is part of the reason the Coastal Commission sought the removal of permanent structures from this area.

The Commission also determined that a small part of the leased land is an ecologically sensitive dune habitat and tasked the Club with implementing a restoration program.

The Commission did not take serious issue with unpermitted developments on the Club’s private property and granted after-the-fact approval for these structures which include a bocce ball court, tents, an outdoor dining patio, a privacy fence, playground, and parking lot.

While the removal of private property signs were part of the agreement laid out prior to the meeting, Commissioner Sara Aminzadeh requested the Club add signs marking where the public beach begins.

Club representative D.J. Moore agreed to this additional condition and the coastal permit was granted by a unanimous Commission vote.

On Thursday Coastal Commission also heard a permit application by the City of Santa Monica to demolish Downtown Parking Structure 3. Commissioners approved this motion unanimously and the City will now begin working on a proposal to convert this land to a low-income housing project. More details on this development will be provided in the Saturday paper.