Code Section Group

Public Resources Code - PRC


  ( Division 20 added by Stats. 1976, Ch. 1330. )

CHAPTER 1. Findings and Declarations and General Provisions [30000 - 30013]
  ( Chapter 1 added by Stats. 1976, Ch. 1330. )


This division shall be known and may be cited as the California Coastal Act of 1976.

(Added by Stats. 1976, Ch. 1330.)


The Legislature hereby finds and declares:

(a) That the California coastal zone is a distinct and valuable natural resource of vital and enduring interest to all the people and exists as a delicately balanced ecosystem.

(b) That the permanent protection of the state’s natural and scenic resources is a paramount concern to present and future residents of the state and nation.

(c) That to promote the public safety, health, and welfare, and to protect public and private property, wildlife, marine fisheries, and other ocean resources, and the natural environment, it is necessary to protect the ecological balance of the coastal zone and prevent its deterioration and destruction.

(d) That existing developed uses, and future developments that are carefully planned and developed consistent with the policies of this division, are essential to the economic and social well-being of the people of this state and especially to working persons employed within the coastal zone.

(Amended by Stats. 1979, Ch. 1090.)


The Legislature further finds and declares that, notwithstanding the fact electrical generating facilities, refineries, and coastal-dependent developments, including ports and commercial fishing facilities, offshore petroleum and gas development, and liquefied natural gas facilities, may have significant adverse effects on coastal resources or coastal access, it may be necessary to locate such developments in the coastal zone in order to ensure that inland as well as coastal resources are preserved and that orderly economic development proceeds within the state.

(Added by Stats. 1976, Ch. 1330.)


The Legislature further finds and declares that the basic goals of the state for the coastal zone are to:

(a) Protect, maintain, and, where feasible, enhance and restore the overall quality of the coastal zone environment and its natural and artificial resources.

(b) Assure orderly, balanced utilization and conservation of coastal zone resources taking into account the social and economic needs of the people of the state.

(c) Maximize public access to and along the coast and maximize public recreational opportunities in the coastal zone consistent with sound resources conservation principles and constitutionally protected rights of private property owners.

(d) Assure priority for coastal-dependent and coastal-related development over other development on the coast.

(e) Encourage state and local initiatives and cooperation in preparing procedures to implement coordinated planning and development for mutually beneficial uses, including educational uses, in the coastal zone.

(Amended by Stats. 1982, Ch. 1617, Sec. 1. Effective September 30, 1982.)


The Legislature further finds and declares that:

(a) The California Coastal Zone Conservation Commission, pursuant to the California Coastal Zone Conservation Act of 1972 (commencing with Section 27000), has made a detailed study of the coastal zone; that there has been extensive participation by other governmental agencies, private interests, and the general public in the study; and that, based on the study, the commission has prepared a plan for the orderly, long-range conservation, use, and management of the natural, scenic, cultural, recreational, and manmade resources of the coastal zone.

(b) Such plan contains a series of recommendations which require implementation by the Legislature and that some of those recommendations are appropriate for immediate implementation as provided for in this division while others require additional review.

(Added by Stats. 1976, Ch. 1330.)


All public agencies and all federal agencies, to the extent possible under federal law or regulations or the United States Constitution, shall comply with the provisions of this division.

(Added by Stats. 1976, Ch. 1330.)


The Legislature further finds and declares that:

(a) To achieve maximum responsiveness to local conditions, accountability, and public accessibility, it is necessary to rely heavily on local government and local land use planning procedures and enforcement.

(b) To ensure conformity with the provisions of this division, and to provide maximum state involvement in federal activities allowable under federal law or regulations or the United States Constitution which affect California’s coastal resources, to protect regional, state, and national interests in assuring the maintenance of the long-term productivity and economic vitality of coastal resources necessary for the well-being of the people of the state, and to avoid long-term costs to the public and a diminished quality of life resulting from the misuse of coastal resources, to coordinate and integrate the activities of the many agencies whose activities impact the coastal zone, and to supplement their activities in matters not properly within the jurisdiction of any existing agency, it is necessary to provide for continued state coastal planning and management through a state coastal commission.

(Added by Stats. 1976, Ch. 1330.)


No provision of this division is a limitation on any of the following:

(a) Except as otherwise limited by state law, on the power of a city or county or city and county to adopt and enforce additional regulations, not in conflict with this act, imposing further conditions, restrictions, or limitations with respect to any land or water use or other activity which might adversely affect the resources of the coastal zone.

(b) On the power of any city or county or city and county to declare, prohibit, and abate nuisances.

(c) On the power of the Attorney General to bring an action in the name of the people of the state to enjoin any waste or pollution of the resources of the coastal zone or any nuisance.

(d) On the right of any person to maintain an appropriate action for relief against a private nuisance or for any other private relief.

(Added by Stats. 1976, Ch. 1330.)


Nothing in this division shall be construed to authorize any local government, or to authorize the commission to require any local government, to exercise any power it does not already have under the Constitution and laws of this state or that is not specifically delegated pursuant to Section 30519.

(Added by Stats. 1979, Ch. 744.)


The Legislature further finds and declares that the public has a right to fully participate in decisions affecting coastal planning, conservation, and development; that achievement of sound coastal conservation and development is dependent upon public understanding and support; and that the continuing planning and implementation of programs for coastal conservation and development should include the widest opportunity for public participation.

(Added by Stats. 1976, Ch. 1330.)


The Legislature further finds and declares that sound and timely scientific recommendations are necessary for many coastal planning, conservation, and development decisions and that the commission should, in addition to developing its own expertise in significant applicable fields of science, interact with members of the scientific and academic communities in the social, physical, and natural sciences so that the commission may receive technical advice and recommendations with regard to its decisionmaking, especially with regard to issues such as coastal erosion and geology, agriculture, marine biodiversity, wetland restoration, sea level rise, desalination plants, and the cumulative impact of coastal zone developments.

(Amended by Stats. 2019, Ch. 168, Sec. 1. (AB 1644) Effective January 1, 2020.)


Nothing in this division shall exempt local governments from meeting the requirements of state and federal law with respect to providing low- and moderate-income housing, replacement housing, relocation benefits, or any other obligation related to housing imposed by existing law or any law hereafter enacted.

(Added by Stats. 1976, Ch. 1330.)


The Legislature further finds and recognizes that conflicts may occur between one or more policies of the division. The Legislature therefore declares that in carrying out the provisions of this division such conflicts be resolved in a manner which on balance is the most protective of significant coastal resources. In this context, the Legislature declares that broader policies which, for example, serve to concentrate development in close proximity to urban and employment centers may be more protective, overall, than specific wildlife habitat and other similar resource policies.

(Added by Stats. 1976, Ch. 1330.)


This division shall constitute California’s coastal zone management program within the coastal zone for purposes of the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (16 U.S.C. 1451, et seq.) and any other federal act heretofore or hereafter enacted or amended that relates to the planning or management of coastal zone resources; provided, however, that within federal lands excluded from the coastal zone pursuant to the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, the State of California shall, consistent with applicable federal and state laws, continue to exercise the full range of powers, rights, and privileges it now possesses or which may be granted.

(Amended by Stats. 1978, Ch. 1075.)


This division shall be liberally construed to accomplish its purposes and objectives.

(Added by Stats. 1976, Ch. 1330.)


The Legislature hereby finds and declares that this division is not intended, and shall not be construed as authorizing the commission, port governing body, or local government acting pursuant to this division to exercise their power to grant or deny a permit in a manner which will take or damage private property for public use, without the payment of just compensation therefor. This section is not intended to increase or decrease the rights of any owner of property under the Constitution of the State of California or the United States.

(Amended by Stats. 1991, Ch. 285, Sec. 2.)


Nothing in this division shall authorize the commission to review a local government’s application of the requirements of Section 65590 of the Government Code to any development. In addition, the commission shall not require any applicant for a coastal development permit or any local government to provide certification or other evidence of compliance with the requirements of Section 65590 of the Government Code. The commission may, however, solely in connection with coastal development permit applications described in subdivision (c) of Section 30600.1, require information about the status of a local government’s action to apply the requirements of Section 65590 of the Government Code. This information shall be used for the purpose of determining time limits for commission action on these applications as provided in that subdivision (c).

(Added by Stats. 1982, Ch. 43, Sec. 5. Effective February 17, 1982.)


(a) The Legislature finds that an educated and informed citizenry is essential to the well-being of a participatory democracy and is necessary to protect California’s finite natural resources, including the quality of its environment. The Legislature further finds that through education, individuals can be made aware of and encouraged to accept their share of the responsibility for protecting and improving the natural environment.

(b) (1) The commission shall, to the extent that its resources permit, carry out a public education program that includes outreach efforts to schools, youth organizations, and the general public for the purpose of promoting understanding of, fostering a sense of individual responsibility for, and encouraging public initiatives and participation in programs for, the conservation and wise use of coastal and ocean resources. Emphasis shall be given to volunteer efforts such as the Adopt-A-Beach program.

(2) In carrying out this program, the commission shall coordinate with other agencies to avoid duplication and to maximize information sharing.

(c) The commission is encouraged to seek funding from any appropriate public or private source and may apply for and expend any grant or endowment funds for the purposes of this section without the need to specifically include funds in its budget. Any funding made available to the commission for these purposes shall be reported to the fiscal committee of each house of the Legislature at the time its budget is being formally reviewed.

(d) The commission is encouraged to seek and utilize interns for the purpose of assisting its regular staff in carrying out the purposes of this section and this division and, notwithstanding any other provision of law, may participate in any internship program the executive director determines to be appropriate. With respect to any internship program the commission uses, it shall make the best efforts to ensure that the participants in the program reflect the ethnic diversity of the state and are provided an educational and meaningful experience.

(e) The commission shall submit to each house of the Legislature an annual report describing the progress it is making in carrying out this section.

(Added by Stats. 1991, Ch. 802, Sec. 1.)


The Legislature further finds and declares that in order to advance the principles of environmental justice and equality, subdivision (a) of Section 11135 of the Government Code and subdivision (e) of Section 65040.12 of the Government Code apply to the commission and all public agencies implementing the provisions of this division. As required by Section 11135 of the Government Code, no person in the State of California, on the basis of race, national origin, ethnic group identification, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, color, genetic information, or disability, shall be unlawfully denied full and equal access to the benefits of, or be unlawfully subjected to discrimination, under any program or activity that is conducted, operated, or administered pursuant to this division, is funded directly by the state for purposes of this division, or receives any financial assistance from the state pursuant to this division.

(Added by Stats. 2016, Ch. 578, Sec. 1. (AB 2616) Effective January 1, 2017.)

PRCPublic Resources Code - PRC