The California Coastal Commission and the local governments along the
coast share responsibility for managing the state's coastal resources. Through a unique
partnership with the Coastal Commission, coastal cities and counties develop local coastal
programs (LCPs). These programs are the primary means for carrying out the policies of
the California Coastal Act at the local level. The 74 jurisdictions that are partly or
entirely in the coastal zone prepare LCPs in consultation with the staff of the Coastal
Commission. After final review and approval by the Coastal Commission, an LCP is certified
and the local governments implement the programs.
An LCP includes a local government's (a) land use plans, (b) zoning ordinances,
(c) zoning district maps, and (d) within sensitive resources areas, other implementing actions,
which, when taken together, meet the requirements of, and implement the provisions and policies
of, the Coastal Act at the local level.
Two terms are typically used to discuss the components of local coastal programs.
The land use plan, or LUP, is the relevant portion of a local government's general plan or local
coastal element which is sufficiently detailed to indicate the kinds, location, and intensity of
land uses, the applicable resource protection and development policies, and, where necessary,
a listing of implementing actions. The implementation component is made up of the three remaining
elements of an LCP: the zoning ordinances, zoning district maps, and other implementing actions
within sensitive coastal resources areas. The Coastal Commission typically refers to this as the
local implementation plan or IP.
A local government may submit the LCP to the Coastal Commission in various ways.
They may submit the entire LCP for review and approval at one time or, they can submit the LCP in
two phases, submitting the LUP first, followed by the IP. In addition, a local government may choose
to submit LCPs in separate geographic units, consisting of less than its jurisdiction lying within
the coastal zone. If a local government chooses the latter option, the commission must first find
that the area or areas proposed for separate review can be analyzed for the potential cumulative
impacts of development on coastal resources and access independently of the remainder of
When reviewing an LCP, the Coastal Commission evaluates the LUP for conformance
with the policies of the Coastal Act. The land use plan must meet the requirements of and be in
conformity with the policies of Chapter 3. The Coastal Commission reviews the implementation plan
to ensure that it conforms with, and is adequate to carry out, the provisions of the certified land
use plan and the public access and recreation provisions of the Coastal Act.
After the Coastal Commission certifies an LCP, the local government gains
authority to issue most coastal development permits (CDP). However, some local government CDP
decisions can be appealed to the Coastal Commission even after the LCP is certified. If someone
files an appeal based on a local government's decision on a CDP application, the permit is not
issued until the Commission acts on the appeal. It also is important to note that the Coastal
Commission retains permit jurisdiction over certain specified lands (such as public trust lands
or tidelands). Only the Coastal Commission can grant a coastal development permit for development
in areas of its retained jurisdiction.
Local governments may amend their LUPs and LCPs, but the changes become
effective only after approval by the Coastal Commission. To ensure that coastal resources
are effectively protected in light of changing circumstances, such as new information and
changing development pressures and impacts, the Coastal Commission periodically
reviews certified LCPs.