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Pushing the CZMA Envelope: California: The First State to Litigate the New Federal Law

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As noted often by the former California Coastal Commission Executive Director Peter Douglas, the history of how the California coast was saved is a great repository of untold stories. Although the Commission has had a dramatic and tangible impact on California's coastal geography, the public is largely unaware of many of its early accomplishments. This article begins to chronicle the rich stories of California's coastal legacy by telling the story of how the Commission utilized the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) to prevent Southern Pacific Railroad from developing a seven-mile stretch of the Monterey Bay shoreline. In so doing, the Commission helped make possible the creation of the Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail, a public bicycle and pedestrian path that has grown to sixteen miles in length and runs through the heart of John Steinbeck's world-famous Cannery Row. The controversy also was the subject of the first judicial challenge of a state's federal authority under the CZMA and precluded private commercial and residential development that would have dramatically altered the urban form of the Monterey Peninsula. It is important to tell the story as the Coastal Commission's role in this remarkable accomplishment has been almost completely overlooked.
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Keywords: coastal management; consistency; public access

Document Type: Research Article

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

Publication date: 2013-05-04

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