It's crunch time for California state lawmakers to ensure that California's coastline is protected from polluters, destructive development, and climate change. The State has a rare budget surplus this year of nearly $100 billion and negotiations on how to spend it are wrapping up this month. Surfrider and our partners are urging Governor Newsom and legislators to set aside part of that budget to prepare the state for sea level rise, which is already dramatically changing the coastline. As part of this ask we are requesting $10 million be set aside to support a badly needed five-year investment in enforcement personnel at the California Coastal Commission. The legislature has already voiced their support for this funding but Governor Newsom's office could stand in the way. It is time for the Governor to prove he is truly a coastal champion by supporting a $10 million one-time funding surge for the Coastal Commission enforcement division and help clear a backlog of Coastal Act violations.
The Commission is facing a growing backlog of nearly 3,000 recorded violations of the Coastal Act. These violations can carry enormous consequences, and include cases involving the illegal destruction of wetlands, sensitive habitats, and archaeological and cultural resources sacred to California’s Native American Tribes. Resolution can almost immediately provide tangible benefits to communities through the return of coastal accessways and restoration of habitats.
Last year, the Legislature and Governor Newsom secured a critical win for the coast through SB 433 (Allen, D-Santa Monica) which now provides the Coastal Commission with the legal authority it needs to effectively and efficiently tackle enforcement violations. Now the Commission just needs the human power to implement this authority.
The status quo of leaving this problem unaddressed signals to potential Coastal Act violations that they can illegally destroy public trust resources in the Coastal Zone without fear of consequence, and piecemeal enforcement leads to inequity and confusion over what is allowed. The end result is the degradation of our state’s beloved coastline, which belongs to all Californians.
A $10 million investment to address the existing violations backlog will send an unmistakable signal that the State of California stands up for its unique coastline and the people that love it. The state has signaled it's intention to support nature and access to the outdoors with other major investments in water resiliency, equitable access, and outdoor education in this year's budget. A one-time appropriation to the Coastal Commission for enforcement will complement those efforts at the coast and give a critical coastal resources agency the tools it needs to protect and manage our natural spaces.
This campaign is also supported by California Coastal Protection Network, Environmental Defense Center, Defenders of Wildlife, Eco San Diego, EAC of West Marin, California Coastkeeper Alliance, California Native Plant Society, Heal the Bay and WILCOAST. Read our full letter here.
Please share this message today and tell the Governor's office know that we must support the Coastal Commission and their important work enforcing the Coastal Act while we have the chance!