California’s coastline is one of the state’s greatest assets. It offers some of the best scenery in the world, draws countless tourists, and boasts some of the highest property values in the state. Coastal property offers many opportunities for California real estate investors, but a unique set of rules may apply. The California Coastal Act (CCA) regulates an area known as the Coastal Zone. Back in the 1970’s, the state created the California Coastal Commission (CCC) to enforce the CCA. An issue that has caused controversy recently in cities and towns up and down the coast involves vacation rental homes, commonly known as short-term rentals (STRs). The CCC must approve municipal regulations affecting coastal STRs. It recently rejected an ordinance in Del Mar that would have limited the duration of time STRs could be rented to the public.
A voter initiative in 1972 first established the CCC, and it became a permanent part of the state government when the California Legislature enacted the CCA in 1976. It has jurisdiction over the Coastal Zone, and a significant part of its purpose is to preserve access to the coastline and public beaches. According to state law, the Coastal Zone extends from the U.S.-Mexico border to the California-Oregon state line. It begins at the “state’s outer limit of jurisdiction” in the Pacific Ocean, and extends inland “generally 1,000 yards from the mean high tide line of the sea.” The inland extent may be less than one thousand yards in urban areas, and more in undeveloped areas. Beachfront properties almost everywhere in the state are located within the Coastal Zone. Continue reading