California Coastal Act Glossary: Key Terms & Definitions for Developers and Consultants

California Coastal Act Key Terms & Definitions

Appealable Area: The geographic area between the sea and the first public road paralleling the sea or within 300 feet of the inland extent of any beach or the mean high tide line, whichever is greater, as defined in Section 30603(a) of the California Coastal Act.

California Coastal Commission: The state agency responsible for administering and enforcing the California Coastal Act, as established by Section 30300 of the Act.

Coastal Access: The ability of the public to reach, use, and enjoy the coast, as protected by the California Coastal Act under Sections 30210-30214.

Coastal Development Permit (CDP): A permit required for most development activities within the coastal zone, as mandated by Section 30600 of the California Coastal Act.

Coastal Resources: The natural and scenic assets of California's coast, including beaches, wetlands, estuaries, and marine habitats, as defined throughout Chapter 3 of the California Coastal Act (Sections 30200-30265.5).

Coastal Zone: The land and water area extending seaward to the state's outer limit of jurisdiction and inland generally 1,000 yards from the mean high tide line, as defined in Section 30103 of the California Coastal Act.

Development: On land, in or under water, the placement or erection of any solid material or structure; discharge or disposal of any dredged material or of any gaseous, liquid, solid, or thermal waste; grading, removing, dredging, mining, or extraction of any materials; change in the density or intensity of use of land, as defined in Section 30106 of the California Coastal Act.

Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area (ESHA): Any area in which plant or animal life or their habitats are either rare or especially valuable because of their special nature or role in an ecosystem, as defined in Section 30107.5 of the California Coastal Act.

Local Coastal Program (LCP): A local government's land use plans, zoning ordinances, zoning district maps, and implementing actions that together meet the requirements of, and implement the provisions and policies of, the California Coastal Act at the local level, as described in Section 30108.6 of the Act.

Marine Protected Area (MPA): A named, discrete geographic marine or estuarine area seaward of the mean high tide line or the mouth of a coastal river, including any area of intertidal or subtidal terrain, together with its overlying water and associated flora and fauna that has been designated under the California Coastal Act, as defined in Section 30100.5 of the Act.

Mean High Tide Line: The statistical mean of all the high water elevations observed over a specific 19-year Metonic cycle, as defined in Section 30101 of the California Coastal Act.

Public Access: The ability of the public to physically reach, occupy, and enjoy public coastal lands and waters, as protected by Sections 30210-30214 of the California Coastal Act.

Public Trust Lands: All lands subject to the Common Law Public Trust for commerce, navigation, fisheries, recreation, and other public purposes, as defined in Section 30100.7 of the California Coastal Act.

Sea Level Rise: The increase in the elevation of the ocean surface associated with global climate change, an issue addressed throughout the California Coastal Act, particularly in Sections 30270 and 30421.

Sensitive Coastal Resource Areas: Those identifiable and geographically bounded land and water areas within the coastal zone of vital interest and sensitivity, such as highly scenic areas, special communities or neighborhoods which are significant visitor destination areas, as defined in Section 30116 of the California Coastal Act.

Shoreline Protective Device: A seawall, revetment, breakwater, or other artificial structure designed to protect coastal development from coastal hazards such as erosion and flooding, as regulated under Section 30235 of the California Coastal Act.

Special District: Any public agency other than a local government formed pursuant to general law or special act for the local performance of governmental or proprietary functions within limited boundaries, as defined in Section 30118 of the California Coastal Act.

Submerged Lands: Lands which lie below the line of mean low tide, as defined in Section 30121 of the California Coastal Act.

Tidelands: Lands which are located between the lines of mean high tide and mean low tide, as defined in Section 30122 of the California Coastal Act.

Visual Resources: The scenic qualities of coastal areas, including natural landforms, vegetation, and structures, as protected under Section 30251 of the California Coastal Act.

Wetland: Lands within the coastal zone which may be covered periodically or permanently with shallow water and include saltwater marshes, freshwater marshes, open or closed brackish water marshes, swamps, mudflats, and fens, as defined in Section 30121 of the California Coastal Act.

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A Note to Our Readers: We hope this guide is a valuable resource in helping you better understand the . However, it's not a substitute for professional advice and doesn't cover every scenario. Always consult with regulatory bodies and professionals for the most current advice and project-specific guidance.