Volume 5: Coastal Requirements
For questions regarding Coastal Requirements, please contact Scott Williams of the GNEIS Office at (916) 653-8369.
Chapter 1 defines selected Coastal Act terms commonly used and cited throughout this chapter. The complete list of definitions can be found in Chapter 2 of the California Coastal Act.
This chapter provides a brief summary of federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and guidance related to coastal resources and compliance.
Chapter 1 of the Standard Environmental Reference (SER) sets forth the federal laws and regulations applicable to transportation projects; and executive orders, policy, guidance, directives, and advisories pertaining to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and related federal environmental laws. The Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (CZMA) is the primary federal law enacted to preserve and protect coastal resources.
Chapter 2 of the SER sets forth California laws and regulations applicable to transportation projects. California has developed a coastal zone management program and has enacted its own law, the California Coastal Act of 1976, to protect coastal resources.
Local Governmental Agencies
The California Coastal Act (Coastal Act) delegates to local governments the power to enact and implement their own local coastal programs (LCPs) upon formal certification by the California Coastal Commission (CCC) that the proposed programs are consistent with the policies and provisions of the statute. The Coastal Act reserves a number of permanent implementation responsibilities for the CCC, including the post-certification monitoring and periodic review of local programs.
LCPs have two components—land use plans and implementation plans—that are blueprints for the local jurisdiction’s short- and long-term use and protection of coastal resources, which include public access, recreation, water and land habitats, agricultural lands, and scenic values. Of the 76 coastal counties and cities in California, approximately 61 currently have certified LCPs. Some LCPs have elected to divide their coastal zone jurisdictions into separate geographic segments, resulting in approximately 126 separate LCP segments throughout the Coastal Zone.
Chapters 5 and 6 of the SER describe the requirements and processes to engage other agencies and parties to formally provide their views on the range and breadth of issues to be addressed in an Environmental Impact Statement or Environmental Impact Report. Early and continuous coordination with the CCC and local jurisdictions is recommended for transportation projects wholly or partially within the jurisdiction of these agencies. Interagency coordination is intended to facilitate project delivery and can reduce delays in processing coastal permits and other necessary approvals. Such coordination also helps to avoid the potential for a coastal permit to be denied or subjected to conditions that affect the overall feasibility of the project.
This chapter describes the initial considerations and technical information potentially needed for successful project delivery in the coastal zone. Preparation of a separate technical report for coastal resources is not required, but detailed technical data that may not otherwise be required for California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) or NEPA reviews is often requested to support coastal policy consistency findings.
This chapter covers coastal permitting and required approvals, and the waiver and appeals processes. Unless otherwise specified, the information applies to permits needed from the CCC. For general information regarding the processing, approval or denial, and appeal of a local coastal development permit, please see Title 14, Division 5.5, Chapter 5, Section 13300 et seq. of the California Code of Regulations. Because the CCC must determine that implementing ordinances of LCPs are consistent with Coastal Act requirements for certification, the application requirements, noticing procedures, and review periods required for coastal development permits by local governments are similar to those for the CCC. However, each LCP is unique and may contain additional or different permit requirements and procedures. For specific information regarding an applicable LCP, contact the appropriate city or county staff.
Under the federal CZMA, coastal states with an approved coastal management plan are able to review federal permits and activities to determine if they are consistent with the state’s management plan. They can either "concur" or "object" to the consistency certification. This regulatory obligation is in addition to the California regulations generally contained in the California Coastal Act.
The California Coastal Management Program (CCMP) was developed by the CCC in 1976 and approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1977. This allows the CCC to review federal projects and activities to determine if they are consistent with California’s Coastal Management Program (16 United States Code [USC] Section 1456; 15 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] part 930.30; California Public Resources Code [PRC] Sections 30008 and 30330).
In cases where proposed development is inconsistent with an applicable LCP, the Coastal Act allows agencies authorized to undertake a public works project to request an LCP amendment to ensure consistency. The need for project-specific LCP amendments often arises when projects cannot meet policy requirements or development standards included in an LCP, such as permitted use limitations or setback standards for wetlands, environmentally sensitive habitat areas (ESHA), and agricultural resources, or where a project creates a land use designation or zoning conflict. The Department may request traditional LCP amendments, but they must be initiated, written, and processed by the local government through both the local and CCC LCP review process.
Certain local government actions on coastal development permit applications reviewed pursuant to a certified LCP are appealable to the CCC. A large majority of the Department’s projects meeting the definition of “development” under the Coastal Act are also considered public works projects. Therefore, a local government’s decision to approve or deny a coastal permit application on the Department’s projects is appealable to the CCC irrespective of the project’s location in the permit appeal area of a certified LCP.
The following additional important procedures and requirements are discussed in Chapter 9:
- Coastal Commission Hearing Procedures
- Ex Parte Communication Requirements