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Thu, Jan 25



The People's Law: The Coastal Act and California Coastal Commission

Foresight and concern for development along the California coast lead to the passage of one of the most exciting coastal programs ever envisioned. Join us to learn about the historic "People's Law" that is as relevant today as when California Prop 20, The Coastal Initiative, passed in 1972.

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Time & Location

Jan 25, 2024, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Pacifica, 1220 Linda Mar Blvd, Pacifica, CA 94044, USA

About the event

An engaging presentation on The Coastal Act.  Historical context including the people's campaign that lead to the successful passage of Proposition 20, The Coastal Initiative, the resulting creation of the California Coastal Act and the California Coastal Commission, and it's relevance today.

In 1972, concerned about development along the California coast —from nuclear power plants to structures obstructing views and access — the people of California passed Proposition 20, “The Coastal Initiative”.   The initiative, placed on the ballot through the work of an energized group of coastal advocates,  environmentalists and Californians-at-large, won by a ten point margin (55% to 45%).   The “California Coastal Act of 1976” made the California Coastal Commission (CCC) a permanent, independent quasi-judicial body; and the Act defined the role of the CCC as the coastal zone planning and management agency responsible for regulating the coast.

Concerns at the time are still relevant today: population growth, property values, and intensifying coastal development - industrial, commercial and residential. The work of the CCC remains critical to preserving access for all to beaches and the coastside, while being further complicated today by the climate crisis, accelerating storm intensity, erosion, and sea level rise. Beaches are being squeezed by the tide and by hard armoring sometimes chosen to “protect” municipal infrastructure and even private property.

Times are polarized, dynamics are volatile, and interests are divided.  How do the Coastal Act, the Public Trust Doctrine, and private property rights interconnect? In times like these, humans seem to seek an “enemy”, a scapegoat for our anger, an entity to blame for inevitable tough decisions. Rather than battlegrounds, our communities must work collaboratively.

Residents and visitors alike recognize Pacifica’s beautiful beaches and our coastal access is invaluable. To ensure that we maintain the California coast and beaches for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations, we need to understand the Coastal Act, its value, legality and the assigned role of the California Coastal Commission.

We hope that the community at large will attend this program, presented by Pacifica’s Environmental Family, intended to provide background and current information to enable us to collaboratively move forward in a more positive way to address the challenges we collectively face.  Dr. Charles Lester, Director, Ocean + Coastal Policy, Marine Science Institute, UCSB (and past Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission) will share a powerpoint presentation.  The event includes a curated question and answer period after the talk.  The event is FREE, with advance registration (to assist with logistics).


  • 2 hours

    The People's Law: The Coastal Act and California Coastal Commisison


  • General Program Admission

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