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Surfrider San Francisco Opposes SB 951 Unless Amended


The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution to oppose SB 951 unless amended on  February 6. Check out President Peskin's strong support of the Coastal Act in his testimony.

An LA Times opinion piece says SB 951 could 'wreck landmark coastal protections'

The Coastal Commission voted to oppose SB 951 on February 7, watch Commissioner Cummings comments here

KQED's Instagram post about SB 951 sparks comments in support of the beach


Surfrider San Francisco opposes SB 951(Weiner)  unless amended to remove Section 30175, the portion of the bill that redraws San Francisco’s coastal zone boundary. The proposed boundary change removes residential areas in Ocean Beach and parts of the Great Highway and Golden Gate Park from the Coastal Zone. This proposal would take away the ability of the Coastal Commission to implement the Coastal Act in this area. 

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Surfrider San Francisco objects to this attack on the Coastal Act because it is a bedrock environmental law that plays a critical role in protecting the coastal environment, ensuring public access to the coast, and helping the state and local communities prepare for accelerating sea level rise.

Senator Weiner claimed in a press release that the intention of the bill is to allow the City of San Francisco to streamline affordable housing development. Yet data shows that Coastal Commission oversight is not an impediment to housing development.

The Coastal Commission approves 95.5% of coastal development permit applications across the state. Only two ‘appeals’ of local decision making in San Francisco have ever been considered by the Coastal Commission; and in both instances the Commission concurred with the City of San Francisco’s determination and the projects moved forward.

In other words, SB 951 assumes that the affordable housing shortage in San Francisco is affected by the Coastal Commission’s implementation of the Coastal Act, which is simply not the case. 

The bill’s proposed boundary change removes portions of the Great Highway that are underlain by wastewater infrastructure north of Sloat, portions of Sloat where a controversial 50-story tower was proposed last year, and the Irish Cultural Center project from the coastal zone. While Surfrider San Francisco does not have a position on any of these projects, we support environmental review.

Instead of SB 951’s thinly veiled effort to claw back environmental protections in California, we support statewide policy approaches that will achieve real increases in affordable housing in California’s coastal zone — such as restoring the Coastal Commission’s ability to mandate affordable housing — and other reforms that would restore developers’ responsibility to preserve and expand affordable housing stocks.

The Coastal Act makes California coastal management the most comprehensive, effective coastal management program in the country and the envy of the nation. SB 951 proposes to significantly weaken this framework for protecting coastal access, waves, and beaches for the public; and this approach to housing policy would set disastrous precedent statewide. 

Coastal zone boundaries haven’t been redrawn since the early years of the Coastal Act’s implementation in 1976, and passage of this bill would signal that any jurisdiction which wants to evade Coastal Act review of development could support a similarly designed bill.

There are several ways for the Legislature to more effectively preserve and expand affordable housing in the coastal zone. Before the 1980’s the Coastal Commission had the authority to mandate affordable housing in the coastal zone, both in terms of protecting existing affordable housing and requiring that luxury developers include affordable housing in their proposals. Under pressure from developers and realtors, the Legislature passed a bill in 1981 that removed that authority.

Were the Coastal Commission to have such authority again (alongside other reforms to increase developer requirements to support affordable housing), the state could balance coastal access and environmental protections with advancement of actual solutions to the state’s housing crisis. 

San Francisco needs policy solutions that create real homes for workers, not regulatory corner-cutting for developers that want to build more unoccupied luxury units for investors. Surfrider opposes the bill unless amended to remove Section 30175, and we hope to work with the author’s office to both uphold coastal resource protections in California while supporting dense, affordable housing in San Francisco.


Got follow-up questions? Ask 'em here & we'll answer them in a follow-up blog and convo at the next SF chapter meeting.