Embracing the Coastal Permit process, Part 2


There is some latitude in the Coastal Permit process, where it is possible to introduce some interpretation of the competing interests and the needs of the community, and we can have some choices in the way that we meet the Coastal requirements.

Alcorn & Benton Architects see these challenges as new opportunities for creative design. After all, we have the same interests in taking advantage of the views, and in enhancing the experience wherever possible. Such experiences as seeing the morning fog or the sunlight across the ocean, and hearing the sounds of the ocean, and being visited by the birds that rely on the coastal beaches and lagoons are a big part of the reason that we are here in the first place, and the ability to make them part of the design of your home is why we are here in the first place.

My experience is that, with the level of preparation that we bring to the process, we can show how the design solutions we are presenting are well within the requirements. Plus, we look for enhancements that bring a significant public benefit. We show we are working not only with the codes and precedents and the onsite conditions, but we also are working with the history of the site, the specific views and with nature.

It may seem odd to think of all the issues that will come up in a Coastal Development Permit, but when you consider how close we are to the beach and the ocean, and how intensively these areas are used and visited by people, it becomes clear the coastal zone is quite sensitive to the changes made upstream.

This domino effect was evident during the application process of a recent project that interested Alcorn & Benton. The project was on the edge of a large canyon surrounded by existing homes on all sides, and there was an existing city-maintained drainage system. One homeowner in the area below the property was concerned this project would change the drainage pattern, and his experiences validated that concern.

City officials included the project as part of the CDP process. After it was shown the amount of stormwater runoff in the canyon was not changing, the engineers agreed, and the project was quickly allowed to move forward.

In retrospect this required good site planning, and the result was a definite win-win for the community. But it shows how much detail can be brought into the coastal permitting process.

Alcorn & Benton Architects have been involved in some of the most daring and innovative coastal projects, many of which have stood up to some considerable scrutiny at all levels. Our diligence and understanding of the regulations for the coastal setting, combined with our range of experience, has led to a path of success. Our firm has shown how we can provide the personalized service that is needed for projects of any size and scope.

Alcorn & Benton Architects in La Jolla have been designing projects in San Diego and throughout Southern California for more than 30 years. To learn more visit or call (858) 459-0805.