Demolishing the South Bay Power Plant in Chula Vista took another big step June 14 when the California Coastal Commission approved issuing a permit to remove what many residents consider an eyesore.

Yet when the actual demolition will happen is uncertain. The city of Chula Vista must issue its own permit, and work isn’t possible from mid-September to mid-March because it could interfere with the nesting season of federally protected least terns, said the Port of San Diego, which is managing the project.

Mayor Cheryl Cox said the Coastal Commission’s unanimous decision “helps us move closer to creating a world-class resort and residential destination on our portion of San Diego Bay.”

Removal of the power plant has been in the works for about 13 years following the port district’s acquisition of the plant from San Diego Gas & Electric Co. in 1999. Subsequently, the port entered into a series of contracts to operate the power plant with Duke Energy, LS Power and Dynegy South Bay LLC, a unit of Houston-based Dynegy Inc. The plant was shut down in late 2010.

Actual abatement of asbestos began in January 2011, and Dynegy agreed to a two-phased plan in October.

The project is expected to generate about 21,000 tons of recyclable metals, including iron, steel, aluminum and copper, as well as 3,400 tons of nonhazardous waste such as wood and plastic, the port district said.

Dynegy South Bay already hired the contractor for the estimated $60 million project, Silverado Contractors Inc. of Oakland, which has experience dismantling and destroying other power plants in California.