In summary

The California Coastal Commission’s opposition to contentious legislation this year has led to misperceptions that the board is anti-housing. That’s not true, says the commission chair.

Guest Commentary written by

Donne Brownsey

Donne Brownsey

Donne Brownsey chairs the California Coastal Commission.

Re: “My house or my beach? How California’s housing crisis could weaken its coastal protections

The California Coastal Commission has a consistent record of supporting multi-family, affordable and workforce housing in the coastal zone. Unfortunately, misperceptions that the commission is anti-housing has dominated the current discussions on legislation.

Balancing public access and coastal housing has been the commission’s charge for 50 years. The Coastal Act requires us to protect and maximize public coastal access to beaches, bluffs and harbors. It also requires that we ensure the health of natural resources like wetlands and estuaries when projects get built.

When we consider development proposals, state law and common sense requires us to analyze specific site vulnerability, such as eroding bluffs, flooding from sea level rise and storm surges, and hazards like earthquakes, pollution or inadequate infrastructure. Sometimes we’re asked to hear appeals of local decisions that may not have followed local coastal plans. In jurisdictions without plans, we issue the permits directly.

Affordable and multi-family housing should not be exempted from Coastal Act protections. But neither should Coastal Act policies be used inappropriately to prevent urban density. Building more housing while ensuring its safety, providing coastal access and protecting resources are not mutually exclusive.

Together they promote the well-being and resiliency of our coastal communities.

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