Welcome to the Department of Regional Planning’s Coastal Planning website!
Here you will find general information about coastal planning in unincorporated Los Angeles County, as well as links to the certified Local Coastal Programs (LCPs) for Marina del Rey, Santa Catalina Island, and the Santa Monica Mountains. The LCPs are the regulatory documents that govern land use in each coastal area. These LCPs were prepared by Los Angeles County and certified by the California Coastal Commission (Coastal Commission).
What is the Coastal Zone?
In 1976, the California State Legislature passed the California Coastal Act (Coastal Act), which established a comprehensive coastal protection program and secured the Coastal Commission’s role as the state agency responsible for the protection of coastal resources. Coastal Act policies address a broad range of issues including shoreline public access and recreation, lower cost visitor accommodations, sensitive habitats, visual resources, agricultural lands, commercial fisheries, industrial uses, water quality, and offshore oil and gas development.
The Coastal Zone encompasses approximately 840 miles of California coastline and about 287 miles of shoreline around nine offshore islands. It extends three miles into the ocean, bound by the State’s seaward boundary of jurisdiction. The inland boundary of the Coastal Zone can vary, as it is measured from the Mean High Tide Line that ranges from a few hundred feet in urban areas, to up to five miles in rural areas. In California, 15 counties and 61 cities are located in whole or in part in the Coastal Zone.
What is an LCP?
In partnership with local governments, the Coastal Commission plans and regulates development and natural resource use within the Coastal Zone. LCPs are the basic planning tools that carry out this partnership between the State and local governments in their shared stewardship of the coast.
Each LCP is comprised of two components. The first component is a Land Use Plan (LUP), which designates land use classifications, type and density of allowable development, and goals and policies concerning development. The second component is a Local Implementation Plan (LIP), which consists of the zoning ordinances required to implement the LUP. Local governments prepare LCPs and submit them to the Coastal Commission for approval.
LCPs must be certified by the Coastal Commission to be recognized as official regulatory documents. Once certified, permitting authority is transferred to the local government, which applies the requirements of the LCP in reviewing proposed new developments. The Commission retains permanent coastal permit jurisdiction over development proposed on tidelands, submerged lands, and public trust lands, and the Commission also acts on appeals from certain local government coastal permit decisions. The Commission reviews and approves any amendments to previously certified Local Coastal Programs. There are currently over 90 certified LCPs that cover over 87% of the geographic Coastal Zone.
What Coastal Areas are within the unincorporated Los Angeles County Coastal Zone?
There are five coastal areas within the unincorporated Los Angeles County jurisdiction:
- Marina del Rey
- Santa Catalina Island
- Santa Monica Mountains
- San Clemente Island
- Ballona Wetlands Area A
Of these five areas, three have certified LCPs: Marina del Rey, Santa Catalina Island, and the Santa Monica Mountains. The Marina del Rey LCP was certified in 1984, and was most recently amended in 2012. The Santa Catalina Island LCP was certified in 1983 and the Santa Monica Mountains LCP was certified in 2014. Please click the links above for more information on these planning areas.
San Clemente Island is the southernmost of the Channel Islands of California. Since 1934, the island has been owned and operated by the United States Navy. Ballona Wetlands Area A is owned by the State of California and is managed by the State Department of Fish and Wildlife as an ecological reserve.
How do I build in the Coastal Zone?
Generally, any “development” activity in the Coastal Zone requires a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) from the Coastal Commission or local government with a certified LCP.
“Development” is broadly defined by the Coastal Act. Examples of development include, but are not limited to:
- Demolition, construction, replacement, or changes to the size of a structure
- Grading, removal of, or placement of rock, soil, or other materials
- Clearing of vegetation in, or that provides, sensitive habitat
- Impeding access to the beach or public recreational trails
- Altering property lines, such as through a lot line adjustment or subdivision
- Changing the intensity of use of land, such as using a single family home as a commercial wedding venue
- Repair or maintenance activities that could result in environmental impacts
The specific regulations and policies applicable to Marina del Rey, Santa Catalina Island, and the Santa Monica Mountains Coastal Zone can be found in each area’s LCP. The CDP application form is available here.
For general questions about planning, zoning, and application filing, please contact the Coastal Permits Section.
Office hours: Mon through Thurs 9:00am – 3:00pm