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The California Coastal Act and Ports: The Unintended Environmental Justice Implications of Preserving California's Coastline

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Consistent with the policies set forth in the Coastal Zone Management Act, the California Coastal Act seeks to balance the utilization and conservation of coastal resources, taking into account the social and economic needs of the citizens of California. One way the statute pursues this balance is through its provisions for ports. These provisions have functioned as a type of smart growth planning for ports, encouraging densification of existing port districts and possibly averting maritime commercial and industrial sprawl along the California coast. One unintended consequence of the encouraged consolidation of port activities, when combined with the rapid growth in international trade over the last four decades, has been disproportionally large environmental and health impacts on low-income and minority communities surrounding ports. This article examines how the Port of Long Beach's conformance with the California Coastal Act has resulted in ongoing environmental justice concerns. It discusses approaches employed by the Port of Long Beach to reduce environmental justice concerns resulting from significant and unavoidable environmental impacts and offers suggestions for how to address this issue.

Keywords: California Coastal Act; Coastal Zone Management Act; Port of Long Beach; environmental justice; ports

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Port of Seattle, Seattle, Washington, USA

Publication date: May 4, 2013

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