What Does the California Coastal Commission Do?

Guide to the California Coastal Commission

The California Coastal Commission (CCC) is a state agency that protects California’s coast and ocean for present and future generations. It does so through regulations and enforcement actions related to the land and potential developments near the ocean.

What does the California Coastal Act regulate?

The CCC operates under the California Coastal Act, which provides the legal framework for managing the state’s coastal resources. The Act covers a wide range of topics, including public access, recreation, marine environment, land resources, development, industrial development, and sea level rise.

  • Public access and recreation: The Coastal Act ensures that the general public has access to the coast.
  • Environment: The Act also protects the marine environment by regulating activities that could harm marine life, ecosystems, or water quality.
  • Development: The Coastal Commission manages land resources by controlling development in sensitive coastal areas. The Act regulates development along the coastline to minimize environmental impact.
  • Sea level rise: In response to the growing threat of climate change, the Act includes provisions to address sea level rise.

How does the Coastal Commission implement the Coastal Act?

The Coastal Commission implements the Coastal Act through

  • Partnership with local governments: Local Coastal Programs (LCPs) are prepared by local governments, certified by the Commission, and then implemented locally.
  • Reviewing local regulations: The Commission has the authority to approve or challenge laws passed by local governments that may have an impact on the coast. For example, when cities along the coast pass laws that regulate short-term rentals, the California Coastal Commission must review these to determine whether they unfairly block access to the beaches, or have other coastal impacts.
  • Issuing coastal development permits: The Coastal Commission reviews most development activities in the coastal zone.

Related Reading

California Coastal Commission website

Guide to Laws about the Environment in California

Guide to Laws about the Beaches in California


  • Tristan Blaine

    Tristan Blaine is the founder of Law Soup Media, and has been a licensed attorney since 2013.

    About Tristan
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