Publication Title

Natural Resources Journal


coastal zone management

Document Type



Twenty years ago coastal zone protection was merely a gleam in the eyes of a few west coast visionaries. A flurry of state and federal laws in the late 1960s and into the 1970s changed this. Today, broad coastal management programs are in place in all three west coast states, with a special one for San Francisco Bay. Each program is unique, and at the same time shares significant qualities with the others. This article identifies the major attributes of these four programs and offers insights into the strengths and weaknesses of each. In comparing and contrasting the four programs, this article focuses on five topics. Four topics emphasize the process of coastal zone management: public participation, state and local government relationships, enforcement of program requirements, and federal consistency with approved state programs. The remaining topic stresses substantive changes in patterns of coastal resource use. These five topics were selected in order to distinguish broad aspects of coastal zone management from regulatory programs. These topics also were chosen because of the opportunities they offer for interstate comparison. All three states, for example, have delegated substantial planning and implementation to coastal local governments. Such delegation has created significant program monitoring and enforcement problems. Similarly, all four evaluated programs utilize water dependency as a principal shoreline allocation criterion. The inclusion of water dependency also allows some preliminary attempts to link program processes with concrete program outcomes. For all five topics, the legal framework governing each program is outlined and the experiences of administering the program assessed. Statutes, agency regulations, and court decisions combine to form the relevant legal framework and provide the essentials for how coastal zone management was designed to operate. Of course, the legal framework has been modified as experience in administration dictated. Thus, the article also considers how particular problems actually have been dealt with in the regulatory and planning process. Such an experiential view is, by its very nature, difficult to portray because opinion and anecdote are, by necessity, key elements.



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