A Sea Change in Sacramento’s Support for Coastal Protection

New Measures Will Protect Public (Beach) Access and Address Sea Level Rise

Environment California

Sacramento- With his signature on today’s state budget, Governor Brown signaled a “Sea Change” in Sacramento on coastal protection say environmental leaders.    The new funding and authority granted to the California Coastal Commission include:

  • New authority to issue fines for coastal access violations.
  • Multi-year funding for the Commission to partner with local governments to update local coastal plans, with a focus on sea level rise.

“The Governor and Legislature are defending the rights of working class families to get to the beach vs the efforts of millionaires and billionaires to block their beach access,” said Zack Plopper, Coastal and Marine Director for WILDCOAST, a coastal advocacy group.  “Speaker Atkins was a tireless warrior on this issue,” he added. 

“Most local coastal land use plans are 20-30 years old,” said Chad Nelsen of the Surfrider Foundation. “Funding the Commission to update these plans will help coastal communities to face the many challenges of climate change and sea level rise,” added Mr. Nelsen.

“These new laws and funding represent a sea-change of support in Sacramento for the Coastal Act and the work of the California Coastal Commission,” said Nathan Weaver of Environment California.  “In the coming months the Commission will face tough decisions on coastal access, offshore drilling, coastal armoring and desalination plants among others.  This support from Sacramento will improve their capacity to address these issues,” he concluded.

Specific Budget Items Include:

1) Local Coastal Plans  –  $3M/Yr. for four years to partner with local governments to finish and update Local Coastal Plans (LCPs), with a focus on sea level rise.  Many local plans have not been updated in the past 20-30 years

2) Coastal Access Fines – Coastal Commission given the authority to issue fines to property owners for violating the public’s access rights to the beach.  Of almost 2,000 outstanding Coastal Act violations, most cases are from illegal efforts to block coastal access by removing access signs or posting illegal and unauthorized no parking or no beach access signs. 

3) Sea Level Rise – Creation of a Climate Resilience Account with $2.5M in funds, for coastal agencies to address sea level rise and climate change.  The funds are directed to the State Coastal Conservancy ($2M), Coastal Commission ($500k), and BCDC ($500k) to conduct planning and policy efforts.