You’ve probably seen seawalls, also known as “coastal armoring,” all along our beautiful California coast. Seawalls can provide important protection to buildings and homes, but when they are built the wrong way, they can cause shorelines to erode, damage sensitive habitats, and make it impossible for visitors to access the beach.
Hundreds of seawalls have been allowed to be constructed with an emergency permit, which is supposed to be used as a temporary fix to resolve a crisis. Unfortunately, these emergency permits are rarely revisited, and once a structure is up, it is hard to get it removed or constructed in a way that better protects the coast. Because sea levels are expected to rise dramatically in the coming decades, and because seawalls will play a role in protecting coastal lands, it is critical that California have an effective process for approving the construction of appropriate, safe structures.
That’s why the Surfrider Foundation strongly supports Assemblymember Mark Stone’s proposed law, Assembly Bill 1129, to give the California Coastal Commission the tools it needs to ensure that seawalls are built and maintained in ways that best protect the coast, beach access, and coastal communities for the long term. The bill helps the Commission better enforce existing laws by allowing for penalties and fines for illegal structures. The measure also ensures that emergency structures have a plan for removal.
As you may expect, AB 1129 enjoys strong support from a variety of our environmental and social justice partners, and it is opposed by a coalition of strong business interests that are working hard to keep the Commission from doing its job.
We need your help to get the word out about why it’s needed. Please contact your representative today! Below are a few quick talking points you may use. To find your California representative, click here.
- I’m calling today to let [elected official] know that I support AB 1129 Coastal Access and Protection Act.
- The Coastal Access and Protection Act helps prepare our coast for the impacts of climate change, and preserves public access to the beach and other natural areas. It also provides clear direction and enhanced authority to the California Coastal Commission to minimize the use of armoring because of its adverse impacts on coastal ecosystems and public access.
- Much of California’s coast has been armored with seawalls and other coastal defense structures, which are a temporary fix for the long-term effects of a changing shoreline.
- Nature-based alternatives to armoring that use natural features and processes to protect property have been shown to cost less or about the same as armoring. Defending our beaches from unnecessary seawalls will restore and enhance the natural character of the coast and make sure California’s beaches remain open to all, now and in the future.
- Again, I urge [elected official] to support AB 1129 – Coastal Access and Protection Act. Thank you for your time.
For more information, check out our last blog post on the bill, here.