The Coastal Commission Tackles A Social Justice Issue

From ActCoastal

By Stefanie Sekich-Quinn | Published 2015/01/14

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Commentary is provided by ActCoastal partners.

This blog represents the views of the authors, and does not necessarily reflect the positions of ActCoastal and its partner organizations.

Safeguarding Beach Access for all Californians by Creating More Low Cost Overnight Facilities.

A key role of the Coastal Commission is to preserve and protect public access to the beach. However, beach access is limited, or lost, for millions of low to moderate incomes families—especially as “low cost” overnight accommodations are increasingly disappearing from the coast and being replaced with high-end hotels and resorts.


At the December 2014 Coastal Commission hearing, the Commission conducted a workshop to examine the problem and possible solutions to preserve or create new low-moderate overnight coastal visitor accommodations. View the staff report Commission staff report.

Over the past few months Commissioners have been discussing how to meet demand for lower cost visitor accommodations. During their review of applications for coastal hotels, Commissioners are increasingly concerned with preserving the remaining areas where low cost accommodations exist along the California coast.

Commissioners have repeatedly noted:

  1. Their support for the Coastal Act policy to maintain public access to the coast by protecting and providing lower cost visitor serving facilities,
  2. Their concern that some proposed hotels either do not protect existing lower cost facilities or do not providing new lower cost facilities.

Section 30213 requires “permitted development to protect, encourage and, where feasible, provide lower cost visit or and recreational facilities.” The Commission has collected over 19 million dollars of “in-lieu fee mitigation” for impacts to lower cost visitor serving facilities. The Commission staff identifies and allocates those funds to improve the development of lower cost visitor serving facilities along the California coast. Most of the in-lieu fees are limited to state parks facilities or youth hostel projects. While valuable, these facilities don’t meet the needs of all people (e.g. families, elderly etc), who may need or prefer other types of facilities.

New ideas and options are needed to improve state policies that protect and provide low cost visitor serving facilities. Coastal advocates believe the Commission should conduct the following activities as they seek to improve the situation.

  • Review the CCC’s record on the low cost facilities – e.g. what has worked, what hasn’t, how “in-lieu” fee policy might be modified,
  • Review creative options for new policies or new use of “in-lieu” fees – e.g. low-cost loans to upgrade or maintain low-cost motels.
  • Changes to state policies to improve incentives to encourage development of low cost visitor facilities
  • Partner with State Parks and other agencies to identify expansion of accommodations–especially considering the “most popular parks” are located along the coast.

The Commission will hold an addition workshop to follow up on the conversation that took place at the December hearing.