Mitigation Through Surf Enhancement/Appendix B

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Mitigation Through Surf Enhancement
An Early History of Pratte's Reef
HomeAcknowledgementsAbstractIntroductionChapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3ConclusionsAppendix AAppendix BBibliography
Note Note: This paper documents the background and theory behind an Artificial Surfing Reef (ASR) that was constructed in El Segundo, CA in 2000. Evaluation of the effects of this reef determined that it did not improve surfing conditions and has led to its removal, with phase one of the removal process beginning in 2008. For more information, see the article Pratte's Reef

History of Coastal Zone Management In California

In 1931 California had a population of over 5.5 million. Between that time and 1964, the population increased to over 18 million. Such an increase in population was and is unparalleled in the nation's history. Coinciding with this population explosion was the dawning of environmental awareness in reaction to immanent threats to the environment (Downs, 1972). In response to these conditions, in 1964, California sponsored a conference on California and the world ocean. This conference resulted in the creation of a governor's Advisory Commission on Ocean Resources which operated under both the Edmund G. (Pat) Brown and Ronald Reagan administrations (Squire and Scott, 1984). Subsequent hearings produced the Marine Resources Conservation and Development Act of 1967. The goal of this act was to inspire research and guidance, it was not intended to control coastal development. The Act did charge the governor to create a comprehensive ocean management plan for which a staff was created including various key state department heads (DeGrove, 1984).

The first major step towards direct management of California's coast occurred in 1965 when the California legislature established the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC). The BCDC was initially created as a temporary body mandated to begin a permitting program in the Bay area, largely in response to indiscriminate filling of the San Francisco Bay. The commission was also charged to create a development plan for the Bay area. The BCDC's comprehensive plan was presented to the legislature in 1969 and at this time the BCDC was made a permanent agency and it's permitting authority was continued (DeGrove, 1984). Although the formation of the BCDC marked the beginning of California's legislative history on coastal management and the direct control of coastal development was first established, I would argue that the most important aspect of the development of the BCDC was the citizen activism and concentrated efforts by conservation groups. These groups, most noticeably the Sierra Club, Audobon Society and PACE (People, Access, Coastal Environment) rallied around the "Save the Bay" campaign which created momentum among activists (Sabatier and Mazmanian, 1983). This wave of activism was critical to the formation of coastal legislation in California over the following 4 years and I argue this activism is still visible today as seen by the efforts of the Surfrider Foundation, among other groups.

Although some progress toward coastal management had been made in the late 1960's, concern for the coast was elevated by a number of horror stories that again motivated concerned citizens and environmental groups. A major chain built one of its large hotels right on the Monterey Bay beach and a developer began construction of a gigantic residential tract called Sea Ranch, about 100 miles north of San Francisco, that would have blocked public access to over 10 miles of beach (DeGrove, 1984). Similar activities were occurring in Southern California and the public became worried that their right to access public beaches was being stripped away from them. Although local governments, who maintained substantial powers in the area of land use, supported these projects in the name of economic progress, the citizen's of the state did not. There was an increasing feeling by concerned citizens that local government was failing to protect and conserve the natural resources of the coast. Growing public concern about public access and conservation prompted legislative action in coastal management.

In 1970, the California Legislature received four major coastal proposals, each would have established a state commission for land-use regulation and planned development. None of these bills could get past the republican-dominated state congress for two primary reasons. One, state intrusion into local land-use plans was vigorously opposed by many well organized and established interests groups, including: County Supervisors Association of California, the state Public Utilities Commission, real estate associations, land developers, utilities and others (Squire and Scott, 1983). These groups were organized, experienced and able to protect their interests. Second, by the same token the conservationists and environmental groups were new at the game of influencing politicians and lacked the organization to mount an effective front (Sabatier and Mazmanian, 1983).

By 1971 things had changed significantly. The Democrats, who were sympathetic to the coastal legislation, had succeeded in winning the majority in both the House and the General Assembly in the 1970 elections. In response to these victories and the new potential for passing coastal legislation, the California Coastal Alliance was formed by Janet Adams, who had been successful in the effort to pass the BCDC. The Coastal Alliance became a key group responsible for organizing and coordinating environmental support for coastal legislation. By March 1971, a Coastal Alliance drafting team had outlined a coastal bill. The bill was supported by California assemblyman, Alan Sieroty. With a bill in the works, the Coastal Alliance mounted an intensive campaigning effort dubbed the "Save Our Coast" campaign which earned bi-partisan support both in and outside the legislature (DeGrove, 1984). The Coastal Alliance made repeated attempts to negotiate the bill with opposing groups. However the opposition, coming off a strong victory in 1970, were smug in their overconfidence and refused to negotiate any of the terms of management requirements with the Coastal Alliance. This created an adversarial atmosphere and the issue quickly became polarized between those in favor of state run coastal legislation and those opposed. With strong support of the Democratic party the bill passed the assembly with a two-thirds margin. The bill was then assigned to the Senate Natural Resources Committee where once again the bill was defeated (DeGrove, 1984). This defeat proved only to motivate the citizens and the environmentalists.

During the time of these two defeats the environmental groups had "gotten their act together" and were by no means ready to accept defeat. By this time it was becoming clear that legislative control was maintained by a small group of business interests that were influencing the politicians. The Coastal Alliance considered the loss a temporary setback. As the Coastal Alliance and others prepared for another legislative battle in 1972 they also began discussing the idea of going directly to the California citizens in an initiative drive. Fortunately for the conservationists and other supporters of coastal protection, Article IV of the California Constitution established an initiative process that provided an alternative to the repeated vetoes in the legislature. The initiative required, (1) that a bill be drafted, (2) that the necessary signatures (5% of the state's electors) be obtained to put it on the statutory ballot, and (3) that the initiative proposition obtain approval of a majority of the electorate in a November election (Sabatier and Mazmanian, 1983). An initiative proposal was drafted and held ready to be unfolded in the face of another legislative defeat. The legislative effort of 1972 was played much the same as the drive in 1971. The bill successfully passed the house and was again defeated by the Natural Resources Committee.

However, this time the Coastal Alliance was ready to spring the citizens initiative: "Save the Coast". In no mood to compromise with an opposition which had failed to cooperate, the Coastal Alliance drafted an initiative that gave permitting control to the state and six regional subcommittees with little, if any, local control. It was an amazing feat that in four weeks the Coastal Alliance and over 10,000 volunteers obtained 418,000 signatures, enough to put the initiative on the ballot. Proposition 20, as it was called was developed in line with the original bill drafted by the Coastal Alliance. The bill provided for a state coastal commission and six regional commissions and included a mandate to develop a state wide coastal plan and carry out a permitting system for the period of 1972 through 1976. Three months of clever lobbying proved successful as Proposition 20 passed with a 55% approval by the citizens of California. The were four primary reasons why Proposition 20 was a successful citizen initiative campaign. One of the most important reasons for success was that there was wide spread public support for coastal protection and a belief that a strong state presence was necessary for this to be accomplished. Second, Proposition 20 received wide spread support from legislators and other well known public officials. This fact was very unusual, because California politicians historically steered clear of citizen initiative efforts. Third, the proponents conducted a cleverly crafted campaign stressing public access as the primary issue and not environmental issues. And finally, the initiative garnered wide spread public support from the media. The Los Angeles Times ran a number of stories and editorials in support of the issue (Sabatier and Mazmanian, 1983. DeGrove, 1984).

The new law created a jurisdiction that extend 3 miles off the coast and 1,000 yards inland along the entire coast. The state commission was established as a twelve member body made up of public and local members appointed by the governor. The commission had two primary responsibilities: planning and permitting. The planning boundary extended beyond the regulatory limit to the nearest mountain range or five miles inland, which ever was closest. The permitting guidelines were fairly flexible and were mostly carried out by the regional committees. There were some complaints that this lead to uneven permitting results as each regional committee acted autonomously from the other regions and the state, however, most of the public felt that the intent of the commissions laws were being carried out ( DeGrove, 1983). Over the four years between the passing of Proposition 20 and the legislative quest for a permanent coastal commission a number of events occurred that led to support of the Coastal Act of 1976. The federal Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 was passed which provided states with financial incentives to create a comprehensive state planning program which stressed inclusion local and regional interests (Beatley et al., 1994). Also, many of the opponents of the previous legislations realized that their stubborn stance in the past had all but eliminated direct local power in permitting and planning decisions. These circumstances and the ardent support of Governor Edmund G. Brown led the senators and assemblymen to reluctantly pass the Coastal Act of 1976 (Fischer, 1985).

The California Coastal Act of 1976 created two new commissions and incorporated the already existing Bay Conservation and Development Committee (BCDC) into a three pronged coastal program. The California Coastal Commission (CCC) was a regulatory agency primarily responsible for permitting activities, the California Coastal Conservancy, a non-regulatory agency, was responsible for wetland restoration, public access, a development transfer credit program and land acquisition. The BCDC carried on the same activities in the San Francisco Bay area. The primary charge of this new state commission was to guide each coastal city to create a local coastal program (LCP). Each LCP would consist of two parts: a land use plan and local implementation program which included the necessary zoning, grading, architectural review, and subdivision ordinances. Once the Coastal Commission certified the LCP as fully meeting the requirements of the law, full authority would be returned to the local jurisdiction. The six regional commissions, established by Proposition 20, were to remain intact for four more years in order to aid in the permitting duties and provide guidance to the cities while the LCPs were being certified (Fischer, 1984).

Since the California Coastal Act of 1976 established the triumvirate of the BCDC, the Coastal Commission and the Coastal Conservancy the structure of the organization has not changed substantively. The regional commissions were dissolved in 1981 with marginal success in transferring the jurisdictional role to the local cities. There are several reasons why this transfer of power was only marginally successful. The most important reason was overcoming the polarization that occurred during the heated legislative battles of the 1970's. At that time much of the criticism surrounding over-development and lack of protection of resources was blamed on local government. Also, once the state did gain control of coastal development there was little effort to extend communication or coordination to the local government. In addition to this communication problem, the guidelines set out by the Coastal Commission for the LCP's were so stringent and detailed that many local governments complained that they did not have the resources or the need for overzealous constraints ( Fischer, 1985). Despite these problems, local governments have achieved local planning successes. As of 1985, 35 out of 53 cities have certified LCP and have assumed coastal permit responsibilities. Although the coastal cities can achieve autonomy for local permitting, the Coastal Commission retains permit authority over tidelands, submerged lands, and certain lands held in public trust and is required to periodically review LCP's. The Coastal Commission also retains authority to determine if federal program are consistent with state policies (California Permit Handbook).

The history of citizen involvement in coastal management in California still influences the decision making processes today. The strong state presence and required public comment in the permitting process influences many cases along the coast and is demonstrated in the El Segundo case. In addition, because the Coastal Commission was created through hard fought battles by the citizen's of California, the public interest is a continued consideration in many Coastal Commission decisions. Public advocacy, although diminished in comparison to the 1970's, has a strong tradition in California and is demonstrated by the strong presence of Surfrider Foundation in many coastal issues along the coast.