Local Coastal Programs, better known as “LCPs,” are critical coastal planning documents that allow the State’s 76 coastal zone cities and counties to implement the Coastal Act at the local level. The LCP topics below are intended to provide background context and introductory information related to the regulatory purpose, content, and status of LCPs.
The Coastal Act requires that local governments develop Local Coastal Programs (LCPs) that can carry out policies of the California Coastal Act at the local level. LCPs are land use planning documents that lay out a framework for development and coastal resource protection within a city or county’s coastal zone area. They are prepared by the local jurisdiction and submitted to the Coastal Commission for certification. Each LCP includes a Land Use Plan (LUP) which contains policies, and an Implementation Plan (IP) which includes accompanying measures to implement the plan (such as zoning ordinances, zoning district maps, and other implementing actions). LCPs specify the appropriate kinds, location, and intensity of uses of land and water in the coastal zone portion of a local government’s jurisdiction.
There are 76 local government jurisdictions (15 counties and 61 cities) located entirely within or partly within the coastal zone. Many of the 76 local jurisdictions divide their coastal zone portion into separate geographic segments, resulting in 126 separate LCP segments. As of 2022, approximately 75% of the LCP segments have been effectively certified, representing about 88% of the geographic area of the coastal zone, with local governments implementing their LCPs in these areas through issuance of coastal development permits (CDPs).
The California Coastal Act of 1976 (Coastal Act), which became effective January 1, 1977, is the primary law that governs decisions of the Coastal Commission. The Coastal Act defines the Commission’s coastal management goals and policies, establishes the boundaries of the Coastal Zone, and creates governmental mechanisms for carrying out the state’s coastal management program. The Coastal Act is codified under Division 20 of the California Public Resources Code in Sections PRC §§30000 -30900.
The Coastal Act is a land use planning law that applies a specific set of land use planning principles and resource protection provisions within the Coastal Zone. The Coastal Act includes specific policies that address issues such as: development, design, zoning, shoreline public access and recreation, lower-cost visitor accommodations, terrestrial and marine habitat protection, visual resources, landform alteration, agricultural lands, commercial fisheries, industrial uses, water quality, offshore oil and gas development, transportation, power plants, ports, and public works. The policies of the Coastal Act constitute the statutory standards applied to planning and regulatory decisions made by the Commission and by local governments, pursuant to the Coastal Act.
Local governments play an essential role in coastal management, as partner agencies with a shared stewardship responsibility to protect and enhance coastal resources. Once certified by the Coastal Commission as consistent with and adequate to carry out the Coastal Act, responsibility for issuance of most Coastal Development Permits (CDPs) under the certified LCP is delegated to the local government. The Commission retains continuing permit authority over development on tidelands, submerged lands, and public trust lands, and appeal jurisdiction over certain types of development (as specified in Coastal Act section 30603(a)).
The Commission also has the responsibility to assist with and monitor the local government’s implementation of its LCP, and to certify amendments to the LCP that are consistent with Coastal Act policies and procedures. It is important to recognize and understand the regulatory roles and responsibilities of the local government and Coastal Commission following LCP certification.
LCP Grant Program Webpage - The LCP Local Assistance Grant Program provides funds to support local governments in completing or updating Local Coastal Programs (LCP) consistent with the California Coastal Act, with special emphasis on planning for sea level rise and climate change. Financial assistance through LCP Grants is available on a rolling basis. In 2022, approximately $4.5M dollars were awarded to local governments to help them create new LCPs or update existing LCPs, with a focus on coastal resiliency.