Santa Cruz County

CEMEX protestors rally at Coastal Commission meeting in Scotts Valley

Calling for closure of sand mining plant in Marina

Environmental groups call to close CEMEX plant

SCOTTS VALLEY, Calif. - Two environmental groups are continuing their push to shut down a controversial sand mining operation in Marina. On Wednesday, they took their message to the California Coastal Commission, which launched an investigation into Cemex earlier this year.

Save Our Shores and Surfrider Monterey are continuing to take a stand against the Cemex sand mining operation in Marina.

When the Coastal Commission held its monthly meeting in Scotts Valley, they were met with a sea of environmental supporters.

"This mine is responsible for the loss of more than eight acres of shore line every year."

Environmentalists made their case to the commission, calling for Cemex to be shut down for good.

"If it's not closed down, if it's allowed to operate, even if it was a limited amount of sand removal, it's just more than that beach can take," said Katherine O'Dea, executive director of Save Our Shores.

It wasn't even on the agenda and supporters weren't there to make waves. They took to the podium during public comment. One of the speakers included Marina resident Kathy Biala.

"As a resident of Marina, I see the ocean effects very clearly on our shores and they are actually excavating, for free, 200,000 cubic yards of our sand," Biala said.

Marina Mayor Bruce Delgado also addressed the commission, saying the city has lost 75 acres of land because of sand mining operations. He said it keeps getting worse.

"Monterey Bay has the fastest erosion rate on the California Coast. And Marina has the fastest erosion rate on the Monterey Bay. And the Cemex plant is at that nexus, that point of highest erosion rate because that's where they're taking it out, so naturally, it's intuitive that that would be the highest point of erosion rate on the whole coast of California," Delgado said.

In March, the commission put Cemex on notice, claiming the company violated the California Coastal Act and was working without a permit. It's a charge Cemex has previously denied. We asked Cemex for an interview at the meeting, but a representative declined. The two parties are now in negotiations to resolve the matter.

"It's an open enforcement case and we're actively pursuing it. We consider it to be a major violation and we're trying to resolve it but I can't get into the details as it is an open violation," said Justin Buhr with the California Coastal Commission.

If nothing is settled, the commission said it would enforce the coastal act compliance, which could include fines.

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