Photo of Prop 20

Media coverage of Proposition 20 exploded when Senate President pro-tem Jim Mills led a bicycle tour of the coast from San Francisco to San Diego, stopping for press conferences and public events in coastal communities along the route.

Photo of Help Save Your Coast

Supporters of the California Coastal Zone Conservation Act included Congressional candidate Julian Camacho and photographer Ansel Adams.

In 1972, alarmed that private development was cutting off public access to the shore, Californians rallied to “Save Our Coast.” They declared by voter initiative that “it is the policy of the State to preserve, protect, and where possible, restore the resources of the coastal zone for the enjoyment of the current and succeeding generations.” This voter initiative, Proposition 20, was a hard-fought campaign, which ultimately led to the passage of the Coastal Act and the establishment of the California Coastal Commission.

Many people’s stories have been collected about the history of Prop. 20, the early years of the California Coastal Commission, and some especially significant public access and coastal preservation successes. Members of the public interested in learning more are invited to explore the following resources:

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Guardians of the Coast: How the California Coastal Commission Was Born and Carries it Out its Mission

California’s 840 miles of coastline may be the most beautiful in the country, and with 362 miles of beach fully open to the public the state ranks among the best at sharing its coastal scenery with its people.

There is a reason California’s coast doesn’t resemble the Jersey Shore, or South Florida with its towering beachside hotels and luxury condos. That reason is the Coastal Commission. Except for San Francisco Bay, which has its own regulatory body, the Coastal Zone under the commission’s jurisdiction stretches from Mexico in the south to Oregon in the north.

The zone reaches three miles into the ocean—the outer limit of state waters—and generally about 1,000 yards inland from the high tide line, though in some areas it stretches farther back depending on the landscape.

With a massive amount of territory under its control, the Coastal Commission is one of the most powerful governmental bodies in the state. Where did it come from and how did it become such a dominant force? Click Here to Learn More

Guardians of the Coast