Does SB 9 apply in a coastal zone?
For many, beachfront property is a cornerstone of the California dream. But for those hoping to use Senate Bill 9 to build their dream home, the idyllic coastal location makes development a little more complicated.
In the following blog post, we’ll dive into coastal zones and address the following:
- What are Coastal Zones (and why do they exist)?
- What does SB 9 say about Coastal Zones?
- Can I use SB 9 if my property is located within a Coastal Zone?
- Does SB 9 override the California Coastal Act?
- How do I know if my property is located within a Coastal Zone?
- Further considerations for SB 9 in coastal areas
What are Coastal Zones (and why do they exist)?
The Coastal Zone was created as part of the California Coastal Protection Act in order to protect the natural beauty and coastal resources along the state’s shoreline. The zone has its own set of regulations regarding land use and construction practices.
Coastal Zone regulations include aesthetic concerns (such as not obstructing ocean views and keeping buildings “visually compatible” with the surrounding area) as well as practical ones (like ensuring structural integrity and minimizing environmental impact). All construction within the Coastal Zone requires a coastal development permit.
Some coastal cities have Local Coastal Programs (LCPs) with additional provisions governing construction and land use in the area.
What does SB 9 say about Coastal Zones?
The text of the state law includes the following passage:
(k) Nothing in this section shall be construed to supersede or in any way alter or lessen the effect or application of the California Coastal Act of 1976 (Division 20 (commencing with Section 30000) of the Public Resources Code), except that the local agency shall not be required to hold public hearings for coastal development permit applications for a housing development pursuant to this section.
Can I use SB 9 if my property is located within a Coastal Zone?
Yes, properties located within a Coastal Zone can still qualify for SB 9.
However, SB 9 developments in these zones are unique in the following ways:
- Additional regulations: All applicable California Coastal Act and Local Coastal Program provisions must be met
- Additional permitting: Projects must receive a coastal development permit prior to pursuing development
- Different approval process: Streamlined ministerial approval process does not automatically apply
Essentially, coastal SB 9 projects must adhere to state and local coastal development guidelines and may take longer to get permitted. Unlike non-coastal SB 9 projects, streamlined approval isn’t guaranteed.
Does SB 9 override the California Coastal Act?
No, the Coastal Act still takes precedence and SB 9 proposals must adhere to all coastal development requirements.
The only exception is that the city is not required to hold public hearings for coastal development permit applications on SB 9 projects.
According to a memorandum on SB 9 from the California Costal Commission, Local Coastal Program (LCP) provisions also still apply. The memo goes on to say that “local governments should adopt LCP amendments with standards that harmonize with SB 9 requirements as much as is feasible.”
However, just because cities should amend their LCPs, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will. And if they do, it might not happen quickly. For now, SB 9 developments must follow all LCP requirements, even if they conflict with SB 9.
How do I know if my property is located within a Coastal Zone?
If your property is within five miles of the coast, it is most likely within the Coastal Zone. Refer to the boundary maps on the California Coastal Commission’s website for confirmation.
Searching your address in Homestead’s free SB 9 eligibility search tool will tell you whether or not your property is within a Coastal Zone as part of its overall property assessment.
Be aware that some properties located in the Coastal Zone may be considered protected species habitats, and therefore ineligible for SB 9. Coastal properties in Los Angeles require clearance from a city planner prior to approval, and other cities may have similar requirements.
For more information on protected species habitats and their impact on SB 9 development, read our post on SB 9 in conservation zones.
To summarize, Senate Bill 9 development is allowed within Coastal Zones, provided the development adheres to the California Coastal Act and receives a coastal development permit. Because an extra permit is required and the process is not necessarily streamlined, coastal SB 9 projects may take a little longer.
Want to develop your property with SB 9? See if your property qualifies and contact our team today.