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Coastal Justice CA Coastal Commission Environmental Justice Policy Statement Free the Beach!

We are proud of California LULAC, GreenLatinos, Native American leader Robert Bracamontes, and The City Project working with the California Coastal Commission and its staff on the January 2019 draft environmental justice policy statement:

“The California Coastal Commission’s commitment to diversity, equality and environmental justice recognizes that equity is at the heart of the Coastal Act, a law designed to protect California’s coast and ocean commons for the benefit of all the people. In keeping with that visionary mandate, but recognizing the agency has not always extended this mission to many marginalized communities throughout California’s history, the Commission as an agency is committed to protecting coastal natural resources and providing public access and lower-cost recreation opportunities for everyone, and ensuring that those opportunities not be denied on the basis of background, culture, race, color, religions, national origin, ethnic group, age, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

The Commission will use its legal authority to advance clean, healthy, and accessible coastal environments for communities who have been disproportionately overburdened by pollution. Coastal development should be inclusive for all who work, live, and recreate on California’s coast and provides equitable benefits for communities that have historically been excluded, marginalized, or harmed by coastal development.

The Commission recognizes that all aspects of our mission are best advanced with the participation and leadership of people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, races, color, religions, national origin, ethnic groups, ages, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The Commission is committed to compliance and enforcement of Government Code Section 11135, as well as consideration of environmental justice principles as defined in Government Code Section 65040.12, consistent with Coastal Act policies, during the planning, decision-making, and implementation of Commission actions, programs, policies, and activities. It is also the California Coastal Commission’s goal, consistent with Public Resources Code Section 300136 and Government Code Section 11135, to recruit, build, and maintain a highly qualified, professional staff that reflects our state’s diversity. Further, the Commission is committed to compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its regulations.”

Coastal access — often jostling for priority with wildlife protection, plastic pollution, offshore drilling and other high-profile environmental issues — has captured California’s attention in ways that did not resonate in years past. The issue has taken on new meaning as conversations of equity dominate politics. . . . decades of work by advocates such as Robert García of the City Project and the Free the Beach! study. They pushed for California’s new environmental justice law, which explicitly authorizes coastal officials to consider not only impacts to plants, animals and coastal habitats when making decisions, but also the effects on underrepresented communities. The more opportunities people have to go to the beach, the more they will care about protecting these environments, [Azul’s Marce] Gutierrez-Graudins said. “There’s an assumption that these communities don’t really care about beach pollution or conservation or that we only care about access — but in reality, it’s all linked.” Rosanna Xia, Shifting tide for beach access, L.A. Times, Dec. 28, 2018

As Spencer Robins writes, “A developing body of research shows that access to open space is a vital part of human health and wellbeing. And it’s not evenly distributed; the people most often denied the benefits of forests and mountains and beaches are [. . . ] already marginalized and oppressed. Increasingly, coastal experts and advocates are arguing that planning . . . needs to account for the economic, social, and practical barriers that prevent so many people from being able to enjoy their right to the beach [ . . . ] Robert García is an environmental and civil rights lawyer, director of The City Project, and advocate for what he calls ‘coastal justice’: a coastal movement recognizing ‘access to the coastal zone is about equal justice and human dignity and freedom,’ in García’s words. Coastal justice addresses the history of racial and economic oppression behind the unequal coastal access we see today.” See KCET/Link 2018.

Read our public comments to the California Coastal Commission (Dec. 13, 2018).

Public comments on the January 2019 draft environmental justice policy statement are due to the Commission

The Commission writes:

We will be accepting public comment until February 17th, 2019. [Download the CCC Environmental Justice Policy Revised Public Review Draft (Jan2019)] and comments can submitted by email to or by mail to 45 Fremont Street, Suite 2000, San Francisco 94105.  To learn about the changes made to the first draft policy from last year, you can view a strikethrough version of the revised draft and a frequently asked questions sheet for additional information, both of which will be posted later today on our website.

Our next steps after public comment ends will be to release a final version of the environmental justice policy at the end of February, which the Commissioners will consider for adoption at their March 2019 public meeting, which will be held at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles.

California LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens
Robert Bracamontes (Bob Black Crow, Yu-va’-tal ‘A’lla-mal, Acjachemen Nation, Juaneno Tribe) &
The City Project