FAST FACTS: Birth of the California Coastal Commission

The end of one of the most tumultuous elections in recent memory lends itself to a quick discussion of another election held 44 years ago. Did you know the California Coastal Commission was created by a voter initiative on the 1972 ballot?

California voters were not just voting to re-elect Richard M. Nixon, the state’s former Senator and Representative, to the White House. They also voted in favor of Proposition 20, which was authored by former legislative aide and consultant Peter Douglas.

Proposition 20, known as the Coastal Zone Conservation Act, was handily approved by voters on Nov. 7, 1972. Douglas drafted the initiative in response to plans to develop a portion of Sonoma County called Sea Ranch.

A 10-mile stretch of Sonoma County, where Sea Ranch currently sits, was at the center of a battle of public coastal access. The initiative proposed to preserve, restore and enhance California’s coastal environment and ecology.

Proposition 20, in addition to creating the California Coastal Commission, also opened the door to the Coastal Act of 1976.

More information about Sea Ranch (population 1,305) is available on the Sonoma County website.


Sources: The Sea Ranch, Sonoma Magazine, California Coastal Commission, Sonoma County


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