Existing Structures, Sea Level Rise, and the Mystical World of California Coastal Law “A Very Brief History” (Short Working Paper Series – First Article in a Four Part Series)
June 9, 2022
There is very little doubt that California has some of the most spectacular coastal landscapes, and picturesque communities in the world. This coastal zone is rich in natural resources and historical settlements, towns, and cities; coexisting for decades, and in some cases for centuries. In 1972, then again in 1976, by and through the same drafter of the Coastal Act, in an effort to manage growth, “existing structures” on and along the coastline were given a simple, expectant, and extraordinary right to protection from deterioration and devastation from whatever source, including the movement inland of the Pacific Ocean. This right to protect one’s home is also embedded deeply in the California Constitution. Yet today, these defenses and safe guards, in particular as applied to residences, are vanishing along with the sands on the beach. But, why? How? Who or what caused this shift to occur?