Photo of Prop 20

Media coverage of Proposition 20 exploded when Senate President pro-tem Jim Mills led a bicycle tour of the coast from San Francisco to San Diego, stopping for press conferences and public events in coastal communities along the route.

Photo of Help Save Your Coast

Supporters of the California Coastal Zone Conservation Act included Congressional candidate Julian Camacho and photographer Ansel Adams.

In 1972, alarmed that private development was cutting off public access to the shore, Californians rallied to “Save Our Coast.” They declared by voter initiative that “it is the policy of the State to preserve, protect, and where possible, restore the resources of the coastal zone for the enjoyment of the current and succeeding generations.” This voter initiative, Proposition 20, was a hard-fought campaign, which ultimately led to the passage of the Coastal Act and the establishment of the California Coastal Commission.

Many people’s stories have been collected about the history of Prop. 20, the early years of the California Coastal Commission, and some especially significant public access and coastal preservation successes. Members of the public interested in learning more are invited to explore the following resources:

  • “Heroes of the Coast” is an extensive oral history project compiled by Earth Alert that includes video interviews (and transcripts of those interviews) with key players in the passage of Prop. 20 and the creation of the Coastal Commission. Excerpts from different interviews were also compiled into a 52-minute documentary.
  • The Oral History Center at UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library is releasing podcasts about different sites along California’s coastline where proposed major development projects were successfully challenged. Background interviews related to the Coastal Commission are also posted on the website.
  • KRCB Radio and Coastwalk California produced a podcast series (also with transcripts) featuring three high-profile success stories of the Coastal Commission and the Coastal Act: a right-of-way owned by Southern Pacific Railroad became the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail; the Jonathan Club in Santa Monica was forced to end racial and gender discrimination within its membership; and affordable historic cottages at Crystal Cove State Park were saved instead of becoming a luxury resort.
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