Stone Coastal Access Bill Approved in Fiscal Committee

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

(SACRAMENTO) – The California Assembly Appropriations Committee has approved legislation by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) to defend the state’s coast from sea-level rise and other impacts of climate change, and to improve coastal access to all Californians.  The measure ensures that the California Coastal Commission can adequately oversee and review the building and maintenance of seawalls, also known as coastal armoring, in ways that prevent beach erosion and protect shoreline communities.

“The Coastal Commission can only achieve its statutory mission when it has the tools it needs to protect coastal access and sensitive shoreline habitat.  My proposed law, AB 1129, ensures that the Commission will be able to protect our rights as Californians to access and enjoy our precious coastal resources, now and in the future,” said Stone.

Assembly Bill 1129 gives the Coastal Commission the authority it needs to ensure that seawalls are built and maintained in ways that best protect the coast, beach access, and coastal communities for the long term.  The bill helps the Commission better enforce existing laws by allowing for penalties and fines for illegal structures.  The measure also ensures that emergency structures have a plan for removal. 

Seawalls can protect buildings and homes on the coast, but when they are built the wrong way, they can cause shorelines to erode, damage sensitive habitats, and make it impossible for visitors to access the beach.  Over 200 seawalls have been allowed to be constructed with an emergency permit.  Unfortunately, these emergency permits are rarely revisited, and once a structure has been built, it is hard to get it removed or constructed in a way that better protects the coast.  California needs the effective process for approving construction of appropriate, safe structures that AB 1129 provides.

“Sea level rise poses an increasing threat to California’s coastline. AB 1129 helps protect our beaches from the impacts of climate change, preserves their natural beauty and defends the right of every Californian to enjoy them,” stated Louis Blumberg and Sarah Newkirk of the Nature Conservancy, the sponsor of the bill.  “Impacts from both climate change and private development are degrading the condition of California’s beaches and the natural beauty of the coast. AB 1129 will help restore our coastline and protect against further damage.”

“Access to the coast for all people continues to be a pressing issue for inland communities that have historically not enjoyed California's beaches. As we make progress in ensuring access for all, making sure that we do not lose beaches, as a result of coastal armoring that directly impacts adjacent public beaches, is very important,” said Marce Gutiérrez-Graudiņš, Founder and Director of AZUL, an organization that strongly supports AB 1129.

The measure now goes to the Assembly Floor for consideration by all members of the Assembly.

Contact:  Arianna Smith, Arianna@asm.ca.gov

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