40 Years of Coastal Protection

From ActCoastal

40 Years of Coastal Protection: Celebrating the Passage of Proposition 20

How the Coastal Commission changed the course of history…

In 1972 the voters of California passed Prop 20, which established the California Coastal Commission (Commission). The Commission, in conjunction with coastal cities and counties, regulates the use of land and water in the coastal zone under the Coastal Act, which was established shortly after Prop 20 in 1976. Over the past 40 years, our coast has benefited from having a comprehensive coastal program administered by the Commission.Without the Commission, and foresight of those who prepared Proposition 20, our coast would look and feel much different—there would be less scenic beauty, less public access, and more asphalt.

Over the last 40 years the Commission has worked diligently to:

  • Curb irresponsible coastal development
  • Protect sensitive species
  • Promote and preserve recreational opportunities
  • Partner with local governments and non‐profits to develop the California *Coastal Trail (CCT) for the entire California coastline
  • Preserve and enhance wetlands, and other sensitive habitats;
  • Establish a comprehensive water quality program with the State Water *Resources Control Board to address non‐point source pollution;
  • Expand and enhance coastal access (also helped educate the public about coastal access by publishing a book of regional guides mapping nearly 2,000 existing public access sites);
  • Protect critical viewsheds and scenic landscapes;
  • Safeguard our coastline against oil spills by limiting the potential for additional oil exploration and production near the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary;
  • Preserve Native American cultural sites.

Below are just a few local examples of how our coastline has been protected and why we are celebrating 40 years of coastal protection and the passage of Prop 20.

San Onofre State Beach: In 2008 the Commission rejected a 6‐lane toll road that would have cut through San Onofre State Beach. The project would have devastated wildlife habitat of several threatened and endangered species, polluted one of the last unspoiled watersheds in the region, closed 60% of the park, reduced public access, altered watershed dynamics potentially impairing the waves at Trestles, and decreased affordable, overnight coastal camping.

Malibu and Oxnard: In 2007, the Commission ruled against the largest mining company in the world who proposed to build a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Terminal off the coast of Malibu and Oxnard. This massive floating LNG terminal, three football fields long and 14 stories high, would have received and stored LNG, a highly flammable gas, from huge LNG tankers that would have arrived at least two to three times a week from foreign countries. The terminal and its tankers would have emitted more than 200 tons of smog‐producing air pollution every year, would have violated federal laws designed to protect our health and safety and would have posed grave threats to migrating whales and marine mammals.

Pebble Beach: In 2007, Commissioners resoundingly rejected a massive development in the Del Monte Forest that would have cut down more than 15,000 native Monterey pine trees to make way for a new 18‐hole golf course, 160 new hotel rooms, 33 residential lots, a golf driving range, 60 employee housing units and new roads and trails.

Hearst Ranch: In January of 1998 the Commission rejected a proposal by the Hearst Corporation and the County of San Luis Obispo to build four resorts including a destination hotel and golf course at San Simeon Point on the Hearst Ranch. The resorts would have impacted endangered species, degraded extremely scenic views, reduced public access to and along the coast and encouraged increased development along this pristine stretch of internationally famous coastline.

Humboldt Bay: The Commission acted to protect eelgrass and other important estuarine resources within Humboldt Bay while allowing new pier development and modifications to existing wharves. This was achieved by requiring construction activities to be performed outside of eelgrass beds and other sensitive habitat, and requiring the creation of new wetland habitat to mitigate for unavoidable impacts to such resources.

Humboldt County: Assisted with and authorized personal water craft bans at Black Sands Beach in the pristine wilderness of the Lost Coast, north of Shelter Cove, and within the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.

Lake Earl: In July 2001, the Commission facilitated transfer of an open space easement on property adjacent to Lake Earl to the County of Del Norte for open space and wetlands protection.

Marin County: In March 2000, the Commission ensured protection of 714 acres of open space and continuation of agricultural use on the Giacomini Ranch on the east shore of Tomales Bay north of Point Reyes Station by facilitating the transfer of development rights to the Marin Agricultural Land Trust.

San Mateo County: The Commission acted to protect scenic viewsheds and habitat for endangered species, by reducing the size of several large homes proposed for the area, screening them from public view, and rerouting access roads to avoid habitat of red‐legged frogs and other wildlife.

Monterey County: In November 1999, the Commission facilitated the acceptance by the Del Monte Forest Foundation of an open space/conservation easement covering 20 acres of native Monterey Pine forest, freshwater wetland/riparian corridor, and sand dunes. The Commission has also helped prepare the Coast Highway Management Plan for the Big Sur coast. This plan will help keep State Route 1 open for residents and visitors and will help protect coastal resources, even when landslides or other natural disasters occur in the Big Sur area.

Los Angeles County: Hundreds of acres of open space have been preserved in the Santa Monica Mountains as a result of major permit decisions and through the Transfer Development Credit program.

Bolsa Chica Wetlands: The Commission helped a multi‐agency task force to implement one of the largest salt marsh restoration projects in state history. In 2000, the Commission ruled that a proposed development had to be limited to the upper half (“upper bench”) of the Bolsa Chica mesa because the lower half (“lower bench”) was too valuable as habitat.

San Diego County: Dedication of 200‐acre Aqua Hedionda Lagoon Preserve and preservation of expanded upland open space/habitat preserve in connection with Carlsbad LCP amendment for the Kelly Ranch Master Plan area.

San Elijo: As a result of Commission denial of a permit for a barn and horse corral involving fill of wetlands on a site adjacent to Escondido Creek, the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy with Ford Foundation funding acquired the site.

Orange County: In July 2001, the Commission facilitated the protection and preservation of 6.8 acres of open space located in the Aliso Viejo Greenbelt through the transfer of an open space easement to the Greenbelt Alliance.

San Luis Obispo & Monterey Counties: Reviewed the US Navy’s proposal to develop a bombing range in Big Sur at Fort Hunter Liggett, which would have adversely affected public access and wilderness recreation, as well as environmentally sensitive habitat, including California condors, sea otters, brown pelicans, seabirds, and eagles. Convinced the Navy to use out‐of‐state, existing military training ranges.

Crystal Cove: In 2000 the Commission required Irvine Company to revamp its entire drainage system for the Newport Coast Development because runoff was directly entering an adjacent watershed and the beach at Crystal Cove. In 2003, the Commission approved plans to restore the Crystal Cove District and the renovation of historic beachfront cottages. The cottages were preserved in their rustic state and are now available to the public for affordable overnight vacations (cottages also generate money for our State Park system).