Bill aims to give Coastal Commission teeth

July 16, 2013

oceanA bill providing the Coastal Commission with authority to issue fines for the first time in its 37-year history is moving through the state legislature.

The 1976 law that set up the commission permits the agency only tocollect money from people who block access to public beaches, destroy wetlands or build coastal homes without permits by taking the violators to court.

Largely unknown to the public, the agency investigates alleged violations, but rarely takes any action. Currently, the agency has 1,837 backlogged cases, some dating back 20 years. In the past decade, the agency has taken only four violators to court.

The commission staff has dwindled from 212 in 1980 to 135 today and its $19 million budget is half of what it was in 1980.

The bill, AB976, by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, has sparking a contentious debate between environmentalists looking to protect the coastline and business groups who distrust and dislike the commission’s “bureaucratic rules.”



It’s the usual scenario. Because of a few scofflaws, everyone has to deal with more regulation. Pretty much every law and rule we have was made because somebody did something stupid and/or dangerous and/or detrimental to others. The only way to prevent increased regulation is to follow the existing laws instead of ignoring them – but some people just refuse to do that.

It’s sad, but true. Unfortunately, when they are not under threat of sufficiently-unpleasant negative consequences, some of our local government agencies have repeatedly chosen to ignore the Coastal Act regulations and the Commission and do what they want, to the detriment of our coastal resources. We’ve see a lot of that in Morro Bay, and there are some problems with the County, too.

I’m sure it happens all over the state. While most people are doing what is right, a few decide that what they want is more important than the health and welfare of everybody else – and so a new law is passed giving some agency more power to get the problem people under control. Don’t blame the CCC. Blame the few who think they are above the law.


You can either have a thriving business community free from over regulation, taxation and now fines or you can have a thriving growing government. You can’t have both. I’m all for a clean coastline and a pristine environment but giving unelected people the power to levy fines on their fellow citizens is flat out wrong. I even believe it to be unconstitutional…but who cares about that these days. It takes the heat off of your elected representative and makes his job easier but other than that I see nothing beneficial about this at all.


But remember, there are legions of “public servants” here, so they’ll always vote with more government, less people/businesses who pay them.


I know r0y it’s depressing as see people selfishly vote their best interest over the economic and social health of our state and nation.


think we all need to sit around and figure out ways for revenue. parking ticket? never got one. speeding? once in the Porsche. deserved that one. sand, precicated on what? not so far.

if you don’t like something; fine it. if you have an agenda; fine it.


Reagan said it best:

Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

Truer words were ne’er spoken.


And Ronnie fulfilled those as good as the next prez (cue in sound of heels clicking together).


The Coastal Commission has too much power that should be in the hands of our elected officials. Next on the powertrain will be the APCD, another group of unelected, self-serving bureaucrats with an agenda.


our elected officials? close to an oxymoron


The members of the Coastal Commission are appointed by our elected officials. Would you like to try again?


I have not needed to deal with them on a personal basis but I have nothing but kudos for them as far as protecting the Central Coast from the proposed seismic testing by PG&E. Thank you, CCC!


I have to agree with many of you. The CCC has a wonderful way of listening to the public and addressing the needs of protecting our wonderful coast. I hope the CCC will get all the tools they need against issues like Diablo Canyon and Songs and other projects that are not for the health of our coast.


The Coastal Commission has had “teeth” from its inception. They tell you IF you can build, what type of structure is “acceptable”, how tall it can be, and the list goes on. It only takes one commissioner to wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and you will be paying property taxes on a dinosaur until you can unload it on someone else. If you own property within their jurisdiction, you have inherited one big headache. Yes, they are saving our coastline and other areas several miles inland for “future” generations. A hundred years ago they will be saying the same thing.


pretty good job A


Everyone on the Coastal Commission is appointed. The six elected officials are appointed too. They already have too much power.


this seems to be the new trend; issue fines. isn’t that a tax? and no taxation without ……….

Ted Slanders


Within the same vein, is a parking ticket taxation without representation?



I think the point is… and Toms point as I read it is simple…A fine imposed by a governing body is a form of revenue accumulation by said government. Some would refer to that as a tax and would not be far off. It’s all about feeding the beast and we are running out of it’s food of choice…our hard earned dollars.


Geez, if the Coastal Commission had any more teeth, Peter Benchley would have written a novel about them.

More teeth…seriously? What about their power to postpone or not approve projects through the permit process? THAT IS VERY SIGNIFICANT.

If passed, will the commission, made up of 6 political appointees, and 6 elected officials, be able to fine cities and municipalities, as well as individual project proponents and / or violators?

It looks like the the commission is about to take on all the characteristics of say, the Regional Water Quality Control Board…another agency considered by some to have to have TOO many teeth.