California Coastal Commission

Regional Cumulative Assessment Project (ReCAP)

The California Coastal Commission is continuing its pilot project to develop a new regional method of oversight for coastal development permitting by the Commission and local governments. The purpose of this project is to develop more effective mechanisms for responding, through the Local Coastal Programs, to the cumulative impacts of coastal growth and development. This regional cumulative assessment project or "ReCAP" is part of a larger federally-funded program under section 309 of the 1990 amendments to the Coastal Zone Management Act. Following a comprehensive assessment of the California Program in the Fall of 1991, the Commission and the federal Office of Ocean and Coastal Resources Management identified "Cumulative Impacts," "Wetlands," and "Coastal Hazards," as the issue areas most in need of improved coastal management in California. In March of 1992, the Commission formally adopted a strategy to respond to these needs.

What Are Cumulative Impacts? Cumulative Impacts are the combined effects of a series of development activities within a particular region or ecosystem. Although an individual project may not greatly affect the natural or human environment, the cumulative impacts created by many different projects over time may significantly alter these environments. For example, the conversion of coastal habitat to developed land from an individual project may not seem that significant. However, twenty years of development projects may collectively degrade important habitat values.

The ReCAP Strategy

In the pilot project, the Commission staff identifies broad local coastal development trends and cumulative impacts to the major coastal resources of the pilot Monterey Bay coastal region that are not otherwise evident through the normal "project-by-project" development review conducted by the Commission and local governments. This analysis focuses primarily on the coastal management priorities of "Wetlands", "Coastal Hazards," "Public Access" and "Nonpoint Source Pollution". The goal of the ReCAP is to identify new ways for the Commission and local governments to address cumulative impacts management in the coastal zone, including new procedures of statewide oversight of local coastal program implementation, that can be incorporated into the California Coastal Management Program. Particular emphasis will be placed on identifying methods that promote cooperative and coordinated decision making among local governments, the Commission, and other significant coastal resource decision makers.

Current Tasks: The pilot project report was completed in October, 1995, and is available on request from the Commission. The report: (1) inventories key resources and determined how they have changed over time; (2) identifies factors contributing to the changes; (3) projects possible future changes given continuation of existing trends; (4) reviews the implementation of key LCP and Coastal Act policies and procedures; and (5) makes recommendations to address regional cumulative problems identified in the pilot project.

This current fiscal year, the Commission will complete the final year of the strategy adopted in 1992. The staff will be evaluating the results of the pilot project and will be developing suggested procedures and guidance for implementing a new LCP review process to improve management of cumulative impacts.

Public Participation: The Commission encourages the participation of the public, local governments, and other interested parties in the ReCAP project. For more information on the ReCAP effort or to be placed on the mailing list for future information, please contact:

Elizabeth A. Fuchs, AICP
Manager, Land Use Unit
California Coastal Commission
45 Fremont Street, Suite 2000
San Francisco, CA 94105-2219
(415) 904-5280

Rick Hyman
Coastal Planner
California Coastal Commission
725 Front Street, Suite 300
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 427-4863

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