Environmental Law

Envt'l Law News Fall 2017, Vol. 26, No. 2

Protecting Public Coastal Access Easements from Extinction

by Amy Foo*

INTRODUCTION

California’s 1100 miles of coastline attract over 566 million visitors annually to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of its sandy beaches and rocky shores.1 Moreover, the state’s population and economy are concentrated in its coastal counties, which account for 68 percent of its population and 80 percent of its GDP.2

Given the widespread importance of our coast, a grassroots organization with the acronym COAAST (Citizens Organized to Acquire Access to State Tidelands) began a "Save the Coast" campaign in the 1960’s.3 In 1972, this campaign resulted in California voters approving Proposition 20, an initiative for a coastal protection program.4 The state legislature then made this program permanent in 1976 by enacting the California Coastal Act, which mandates that public access to and along the shoreline be maximized.5

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