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New Stanford research shows that the California Coastal Commission’s decision-making process on land use along the coast has remained highly consistent for the last two decades. The study found Commission staff consistently recommended approval of coastal development permits after working with applicants to ensure compliance with the California Coastal Act of 1977. The report concluded the following:
- Coastal Commission permit approval rates averaged about 80 percent.
- Most approvals come with conditions like: beach access protections, restored natural habitats, & run-off water management
- Outright rejection of applications is rare.
- CCC staff makes “extraordinary efforts” to negotiate each permit to better comply with the Coastal Act, such as public access, prior to public hearings.
- Most permit applications were processed swiftly, and the agency rarely issues outright rejection. It also does not engage in stalling tactics.
Serge Dedina, Mayor of Imperial Beach, said, “These findings prove that the Commission’s highly professional and independent staff have consistently protected California’s coast, recommending approval of appropriate coastal development while ensuring it complied with the Coastal Act. This staff has served the people of California and the Coastal Commission well. Today, our coast is facing unprecedented threats from sea level rise to new uses such as desalination plants. As Mayor of Imperial Beach, I know that low income communities and communities of color are impacted the first and worst by a climate change, pollution and lack of access to our coast. We need ever greater vigilance to ensure both the letter and spirit of Coastal Act are upheld and that the Commission serves the people with the fewest resources as well as it does those with highly paid lobbyists.”
Marce Gutierrez, founder of Azul, said: “This report shows how Commission staff have worked with developers to ensured that projects comply with the Coastal Act. This has been especially true on issues of coastal access and low cost overnight accommodations. This essential staff leadership will be tested in the next few months. They will make tough recommendations on a huge coastal subdivision, fees for state parks, and a billion-dollar desalination plant that could raise water costs for lower income families.”
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