The Coastal Act: The law protecting your rights and our coastline
The California Coastal Commission was established by voter initiative in 1972 (Proposition 20) and later made permanent by the California State Legislature through adoption of the California Coastal Act of 1976. The Coastal Act protects public access and recreation, ensures "lower cost" visitor accommodations, prioritizes habitat protection and covers a broad range of other land and water uses in the Coastal Zone.
Development activities, which are broadly defined by the Coastal Act to include (among others) construction of buildings and other activities that intensify land use or impact public access to the coast, generally require a coastal permit from either the Coastal Commission or the local government.
It is in the application for these permits that the inherent conflicts between private development and public use arise, and the Coastal Act is supposed to serve as the guiding document to resolve those conflicts. Coastal Commission staff makes recommendations based on it and Coastal Commissioners are obligated to uphold it. We, the public, must insist that they do.
Learn more about the California Coastal Commission