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The goals and limitations of the California Coastal Act

On Behalf of | Sep 29, 2022 | Real Estate Litigation

California is known for its beautiful coastline. While other coastal cities throughout the country allow the development of commercial buildings and expensive real estate, California chooses to keep its coasts undeveloped. The California Coastal Act provides guidelines for how the coastal areas of the state should be protected.

What does the California Coastal Act do?

California adopted the Coastal Act in the early 1970s to specify which developments could use the state’s coastline. The Act also established the California Coastal Commission, which works with local governments to plan, regulate, and permit any development from the Oregon state line to the Mexico border. The commission also regulates nine islands offshore.

How does the California Coastal Act protect the state?

The Act aims to protect the coastal line’s marine and land resources. These include protecting coastal areas for the following reasons:

• Water-related recreational activities

• Public’s right to access the coastal area and sea

• Biologically significant marine life and ecosystems

• Sensitive habitats

• Agricultural land

• Already existing developments

• Reduced energy consumption

What are the limitations of the California Coastal Act?

The Act has a limited ability to enforce land use regulations. For example, it does not allow the Coastal Commission the right to levy fines. Additionally, the Commission cannot approve or disapprove land projects that develop outside of the coastal zone, no matter what effect they may have on the coastal region.

Activists disagree about the California Coastal Act

Some California property rights activists have protested the authority of the California Coastal Act and the Commission. These activists believe that the property rights of California citizens are violated and the housing shortage was made worse due to the Coastal Act. On the other hand, environmental activists have praised the Commission and the Act for protecting the environment and believe the Commission should have greater enforcement powers.