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CZM in California: Successes and Challenges Ahead

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California has a forty-year history of successful coastal zone management. The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the California Coastal Commission, and the State Coastal Conservancy have protected and made accessible hundreds of miles of shoreline. While each agency has played a critical role, this article focuses on the Coastal Commission. Implementing the California Coastal Act, the Coastal Commission has partnered with local government, other agencies, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the public to concentrate new development in already developed areas, and much of the rural coastal zone looks as it did in 1972. The Commission has protected and expanded public shoreline access through its regulatory actions. Using strong ecological science the Commission has protected a wide variety of sensitive habitats and wetlands. And under the authority of the Coastal Zone Management Act, the Commission has reviewed thousands of federal projects to assure that they are consistent with the Coastal Act. Challenges continue, though, including population growth, sea-level rise, and inadequate funding to update local coastal land use plans to address new issues, such as climate change adaptation. New investment is needed at the national, state, and local level to continue the success of the California program.

Keywords: california coastal commission; coastal zone management; federal consistency; local coastal program

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: California Coastal Commission, San Francisco, California, USA

Publication date: May 4, 2013

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