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Examining Local Coastal Zone Management Capacity in U.S. Pacific Coastal Counties

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The coastal zone has critical natural, commercial, recreational, ecological, industrial, and esthetic values for current and future generations. Thus, there are increasing pressures from population growth and coastal land development. Local coastal land use planning plays an important role in implementing the U.S. Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) by establishing goals and performance policies for addressing critical coastal issues. This study extends the CZMA Performance Measurement System from the national level to the local land use level by measuring coastal zone land use plan quality and political context in fifty-three Pacific coastal counties. Plan quality is measured using an evaluation protocol defined by five components and sixty-eight indicators. The results indicate a reasonable correspondence between national goals and local coastal zone land use planning goals, but a slight gap might exist between the national/state versus local levels in the overall effectiveness of coastal zone management (CZM) efforts. The results show many U.S. Pacific coastal counties lack strong coastal zone land use plans because the average plan quality score was only 22.7 out of 50 points. Although these plans set relatively clear goals and objectives, they are somewhat weaker in their factual basis, identify a limited range of the available planning tools and techniques, and establish few coordination and implementation mechanisms. The regression analysis results indicate that CZM plan quality was not significantly related to any of the jurisdictional characteristics.

Keywords: Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA); U.S. Pacific states; coastal zone; land use planning; plan evaluation; plan quality

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Community and Regional Planning Program, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA 2: Hazard Reduction & Recovery Center, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA 3: Community and Regional Planning Program, College of Architecture, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA

Publication date: 2011-03-01

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