Marin County’s Local Coastal Program Amendments

It is critical the Marin County LCP update be a comprehensive forward-thinking plan that fulfills the Coastal Act’s intent of coastal resource protection and maximum public coastal access.
— Morgan Patton, EAC executive director

The California Coastal Act is largely responsible for the preservation of California's 840 mile beautiful coastline. The Act helps protect California's coast from large-scale development. The Act requires each local government within the coastal zone develop a Local Coastal Program (LCP)

What is an Local Coastal Program (LCP)?


  • Are basic planning tools used by local governments to guide development in the coastal zone, in partnership with the California Coastal Commission (Coastal Commission). Each LCP includes both a Land Use Plan (LUP) and an Implementation Plan (IP), which define where, how, and when development can occur in the coastal zone.
  • Contain the ground rules for future development and protection of coastal resources in the 76 coastal cities and counties in California.
  • Specify appropriate location, type, and scale of new or changed uses of land and water. 

LCPs are prepared by local government and govern decisions that determine the short and long-term conservation and use of coastal resources. While each LCP reflects unique characteristics of individual local coastal communities, regional and statewide interests and concerns must also be addressed in conformity with Coastal Act goals and policies. Following adoption by a city council or county board of supervisors, an LCP is submitted to the Coastal Commission for review for consistency with Coastal Act requirements.

As of 2016, approximately 73% of the LCP segments have been effectively certified, representing about 87% of the geographic area of the coastal zone, and local governments are issuing coastal permits in these areas.

Many of the 76 coastal counties and cities have elected to divide their coastal zone jurisdictions into separate geographic segments, resulting in some 126 separate LCP segments. As of 2016, approximately 73% of the LCP segments have been effectively certified, representing about 87% of the geographic area of the coastal zone, and local governments are issuing coastal permits in these areas. To determine the status of the LCP in any given geographic area, contact the appropriate district office of the Coastal Commission.

After an LCP has been finally approved, the coastal permitting authority over most new development is transferred to the local government, which applies the requirements of the LCP in reviewing proposed new developments. The Coastal Commission however: 

  • Retains permanent coastal permit jurisdiction over development proposed on tidelands, submerged lands, and public trust lands.  
  • Acts on appeals from certain local government coastal permit decisions.
  • Reviews and approves any amendments to previously certified LCPs.

Marin County Local Coastal Program

The 1981 certified Marin County LCP (1981 certified Marin LCP) has provided a development framework for public participation that has successfully protected and conserved natural and coastal resources, the community character of our unique coastal villages, our scenic vistas, public access to coastal areas, and our agricultural lands of West Marin.

In 2008, Marin County embarked on a process to amend the 1981 certified Marin LCP, which continues today, and has been a priority for EAC. The 1981 certified Marin LCP will remain in effect until the Coastal Commission adopts the amendments to the 1981 certified Marin LCP. See current status and updates below for more information. 

The amendment process requires involvement from multiple government agencies, as well as the public. The process includes public workshops in communities within the coastal zone, County Planning Commission hearings, the adoption of the Marin LCP amendments by the County Board Supervisors, and finally the Coastal Commission's certification of the Marin LCP amendments.

EAC's Role & Guiding Principles

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    EAC’s Role 

    Since 2008, EAC has been a critical and tireless advocate in this important public process by researching, reviewing and commenting on thousands of pages of documents, and by participating in every public workshop and planning meeting for the Marin LCP amendments.

    We continue to be very actively involved in the amendment process, and committed to ensuring that environmental protections within our current 1981 certified Marin LCP:

    • are not weakened,
    • the amendments do not have any unintended negative environmental consequences,
    • our wetland and stream protections are improved,
    • the rural character of West Marin is protected,
    • and the public’s right to participate in planning decisions is not diminished.

    Through attendance at workshops and hearings and the submittal of extensive public comments to both the Coastal Commission and Marin County, we have advocated for strong coastal protections, public access, public participation, and enforceable standards in the amended LCP.

    EAC's Guiding Principles

    Ensure that the amended LCP: 

    • Protects and preserves the distinct and valuable natural resources of the coastal zone,
    • Protects the community character of West Marin,
    • Allows for the widest opportunity for public participation in the process, and
    • Provides tools to address climate change and sea-level rise.  

    2016-17 Marin LCP Updates

    On November 2, 2016, the Coastal Commission considered the proposed Marin LCP amendments for certification in Half Moon Bay, CA. The proposed Marin LCP amendments to the Land Use Plan (LUP) and the Implementation Plan (IP) with the exception of the Environmental Hazards sections (to be revisited at a later date) were approved, subject to revisions to the definition of ongoing agriculture as Commissioner Kinsey requested at the November hearing. The Coastal Commission gave Marin County until May 2, 2017 to accept the Coastal Commission's suggested modifications or the approval would expire. 

    At the March 8, 2017 meeting, upon Marin County's request, the Coastal Commission unanimously granted a one-year extension for the County to accept their modifications until May 2, 2018. 

    At the May 16, 2017 meeting, the Marin County Board of Supervisors approved the LUP (except Environmental Hazards) and delayed approval of the IP, which included some interpretations contrary to the Coastal Act. EAC submitted public comments and testified at this hearing. 

    2017 Summer Update

    On July 14, 2017, the Coastal Commission considered revised findings related to the definition of ongoing agriculture approved at the November 2, 2016 hearing. These revised findings were necessary to support the changes that Commissioner Kinsey made at the November hearing.

    The County submitted comments on July 10, 2017, as well as on July 13, 2017, arguing that these draft revised findings did not accurately reflect the Coastal Commission's action on November 2, 2016. 

    EAC does not agree with the County's interpretation and
    believes that the Coastal Commission's revised findings are accurate

    The Coastal Commission released an addendum on July 13, 2017, and the Coastal Commission unanimously approved their staff's report and language at the July 14th hearing.

    On July 26, 2017, the County withdrew the Environmental Hazards sections, relieving the Coastal Commission of their deadline to act on these sections before September 29, 2017. The County needs to be bring the Environmental Hazards sections back to the Coastal Commission. 

    Next Steps

    The Coastal Commission must approve and certify the entire Marin LCP, including the Environmental Hazards sections before the new amendments will go into effect. However, the County has yet to submit revised Environmental Hazards sections. Until the entire LCP is approved and certified by the Coastal Commission, the 1981 Certified Marin County LCP remains in effect. On May 2, 2018, the Coastal Commission's November 2016 conditional certification of the non-Environmental Hazards sections will expire. If this deadline is not met, the process will begin anew.  

    Without County support for the Coastal Commission's July 2017 decision,
    EAC is concerned that the Marin LCP amendments may again be delayed.

    In order for the process to move forward:

    1. The County needs to submit their approval of the non-Environmental Hazards Marin LCP amendments to the Coastal Commission's Executive Director to sign off on. 
    2. Per the Coastal Commission's directive, the County still has to revise and re-submit the Environmental Hazards sections, which were not certified by the Coastal Commission on November 2, 2016.

    EAC, as well as other interested community and environmental groups, has been invited to participate in a stakeholder meeting in West Marin which may take place (date TBD) to discuss potential Environmental Hazards revisions. The Coastal Commission and the County still have some areas of disagreement around the hazards sections. The County withdrew the Environmental Hazards sections via letter July 26, 2017, and the County and the Coastal Commission staffs are in continuing discussions around these sections.  

    Additional information and documents on this subject can be found below. 

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