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The Federal Consistency Unit of the California Coastal Commission implements the federal Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) of 1972 as it applies to federal activities, development projects, permits and licenses, and support to state and local governments. In the CZMA, Congress created a federal and state partnership for management of coastal resources. The CZMA encourages states to develop coastal management programs and implement the federal consistency procedures of the CZMA. Upon certification of a state’s coastal management program, all federal agency activities (including federal development projects, permits and licenses, and assistance to state and local governments) affecting the coastal zone must be consistent with the enforceable policies of the state’s certified program. The review process used to implement this requirement is called a consistency determination for federal agency activities and development projects, and a consistency certification for federal permits and licenses, and/or federal support (i.e. funding) to state and local agencies.

The federal government certified the California Coastal Management Program (CCMP) in 1977. The enforceable policies of that document are Chapter 3 of the California Coastal Act of 1976. All consistency documents are reviewed for consistency with these policies. The Commission’s goal is to use the federal consistency process to provide open communication and coordination with federal agencies and applicants and provide the public with an opportunity to participate in the process.

Legal/Regulatory Underpinnings

Frequently Asked Questions

Federal Consistency Documents

Sample Consistency Determinations
(Federal Agency Activities)

Review Period: 60 - 75 Days

  • Detailed - PDF
  • Moderate - PDF
  • Simple - PDF
  • Negative Determination - PDF

Sample Consistency Certifications
(Federally-Permitted Activities)

Review Period: Up To 6 Months

Secretarial Decisions On Appeals - Ca.

Under the Coastal Zone Management Act, state objections to consistency certifications are appealable (by applicants) to the Secretary of Commerce. In the nine decisions by the Secretary of Commerce on appeals of California Coastal Commission (CCC) objections to consistency certifications, the Commission's objection was sustained by the Secretary of Commerce in three cases, overridden in five cases, and a final decision deferred in one case.

Note: All Secretary of Commerce decisions nationwide can be found at the following Office for Coastal Management, Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) Consistency Appeals Website

Compendium of Coastal Commission Federal Consistency Decisions OCS Activities – 1983 thru 1988