Permit Enforcement, The Achilles Heel of Coastal Protection: Strategies for Effective Coastal Regulation

by Alison Dettmer, California Coastal Commission, San Francisco, United States,
Nancy Cave, California Coastal Commission, San Francisco, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '93


In 1976, the California State Legislature passed the California Coastal Act, one of the strongest pieces of environmental protection and land use control legislation in the nation for the time. Ironically, while the Coastal Act contains extensive coastal resource protection and use policies and numerous restrictions on private and public development activities within the coastal zone, its enforcement provisions are weak. Notwithstanding recent improvements in the law, the Coastal Act fails to give the regulatory body, the California Coastal Commission, the full necessary regulatory powers to ensure that coastal resources are protected and that persons undertaking development adhere to the permitting process. The enforcement provisions of the Coastal Act place greater emphasis on the collection of court-ordered monetary penalties than on violation prevention and restoration of impacted and degraded coastal resources. While penalty collection has an important role in enforcement resolution, this paper will explore the limitations of penalty schemes and describe why regulatory efforts should be redirected to emphasize enforcement tools or methods which succeed in interfering with illegal development, such as permit revocation and mandatory site restoration.

Subject Headings: Coastal management | Coastal processes | Permits | Coastal environment | Land use | Private sector | Public policy | Laws | California | United States

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