Monterey County Mayors turn down letter supporting Cemex's shutdown

Sand mine controversy: Cemex...

CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA, Calif. - Monterey county mayors had a lunch meeting in Carmel Friday, but there was one thing on the menu they couldn’t agree on -- whether or not to send a letter supporting the California Coastal Commission’s cease and desist order to Cemex Lapis, a controversial sand mining plant in Marina.  

"Before there was mining, the beaches were growing. Since the mining began in the 40's, ever since then, the beaches have been eroding," said Marina Mayor Bruce Delgado.

"We are looking to put a company, a corporation (that’s) been in business for 100 years, out of business, throwing people out of work,” said Del Rey Oaks Mayor Jerry Edelen. “There is some scientific evidence. It's not solid science."

Marina Mayor Bruce Delgado was the only one of the dozen mayors who voted in support.

The California State Lands Commission's ultimatum to Cemex Lapis in May asked the plant to comply with state regulations or shut down

In the letter, the commission said, "The intensity of sand extraction at the lapis operation causes environmental damage, public and private property damage, and loss of economic benefit through beach erosion, as indicated in recent studies."

Aside from science, there's also concern that 20 jobs would be lost if Cemex shut its doors.

"To have the rug pulled out under you, and not be able to earn a living in this area with middle class is devastating," said Jeff Reily, a union representative for Cemex engineers.

But Delgado said some jobs are already on the line.

"With the recedence of our coast line, you've known about Stillwell Hall and what happened to it. You've seen storm walls in Monterey," Delgado said.

And for the first time since receiving the coastal commission's letter of intent, a representative from Cemex is responding in public.

"Let's wait till we get through our negotiations with everybody. We are trying to work on a solution with everything, and I think that we can come to an agreement," said Steve Grace, Cemex’s West Region director for environmental Services.

Grace said Cemex has been in negations the Coastal and Lands commissions.

The Coastal Commission is expected to provide the public with an update and possibly its final decision at a meeting in Seaside in July.

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