Proposed Local Coastal Plan Update
The State requires Sonoma County to develop a Local Coastal Plan (LCP) to regulate land use, protect coastal resources, and guide coastal development. In the last several decades, we have learned about changing conditions on the Coast including the need for:
- adapting to climate change, including sea-level rise;
- safeguarding public access;
- protecting water resources;
- conserving of coastal ecosystems;
- preserving of agriculture;
- mitigating hazards and wildfire resiliency.
The Local Coastal Plan update will address these areas while making the plan more modern and easier to understand and use.
Local Coastal Plan Draft Documents
What is a Local Coastal Program?
In 1976, the California Legislature enacted the Coastal Act, which created a mandate for coastal counties to manage the conservation and development of coastal resources through a comprehensive planning and regulatory program called the Local Coastal Program. The primary goal of the Local Coastal Program is to ensure that the local government’s land use plans, zoning ordinances, zoning maps, and implementation actions within the Coastal Zone are consistent with the requirements, provisions, and policies of the California Coastal Act.
In Sonoma County, the Local Coastal Program consists of three components: The local Coastal Plan, the Coastal Zoning Ordinance, and the Coastal Administrative Manual. The Local Coastal Plan is a broad, long-range policy document that guides resource protection and future development in the Coastal Zone, which is implemented through the Coastal Zoning Ordinance and Coastal Administrative Manual.
Once the Local Coastal Plan has been recommended by the Planning Commission and approved by the Board of Supervisors, it will be reviewed by the California Coastal Commission and certified for consistency with the California Coastal Act. Once certified, the updated Local Coastal Plan policies will be the standard of review for development in the Coastal Zone, with the exception of jurisdiction retained by the Coastal Commission, which included public trust lands and tidelands, as well as appeals to approvals between the first public road and the sea; within 300 feet of a beach or the mean high tideline where there is no beach; within 300 feet of a coastal bluff edge; or within 100 feet of a wetland, estuary, or stream.
Public Process and Next Steps
From the beginning of the County’s Local Coastal Program, there has been strong citizen participation. The Preliminary Draft Local Coastal Plan (LCP) was published in June 2015, and five public workshops were held during the summer of 2015. After integrating community feedback, the Public Review Draft (PDF) was published in September 2019, with public workshops to introduce the plan beginning in fall 2019 and finishing in March 2021. Six public workshops and four topic-specific workshops were held in 2021. Over 500 members of coastal communities have participated and these workshops generated over 400 comments from individuals, interest groups, agencies, and research organizations.
Public Hearings, Consideration, Review, and Certification
On June 29, 2022, the Sonoma County Planning Commission will continue the virtual public hearing that opened on July 26, 2021, to receive public comment, consider recommendations, and provide policy direction on the Public Review Draft of the Local Coastal Plan. Staff is recommending that the Planning Commission recommend approval of the draft, including changes proposed by the California Coastal Commission, Planning Commission, and public comments to the Board of Supervisors on August 30, 2022.
The Planning Commission is only the beginning of the public hearing process. The Planning Commission hearing is not limited to a specific deadline or date and may take multiple meetings to provide direction to staff and finalize the development of the Planning Commission Recommended Draft to the Board of Supervisors. The draft will be scheduled for a public hearing(s) before the Board of Supervisors at a later date. Once the Board reviews and adopts the Local Coastal Plan, the Board adopted Local Coastal Plan will go to the Coastal Commission for review and certification in a public hearing.
Planning Commission Public Hearing Agendas:
- November 10, 2021: Noise, Vibration, and Light Policy, Public Safety Element, Public Facilities & Service Element.
- December 9, 2021: Circulation and Transit Element, Water Resources Element, Agricultural Resources Element.
- January 13, 2022: Cultural & Historic Resources Element, Land Use Element (partial)
- February 3, 2022: Land Use Element, Open Space & Resource Conservation Element (partial)
- March 3, 2022: Open Space & Resource Conservation Element (complete), Public Access Element.
- March 28, 2022: Initial review of Local Coastal Plan incorporating Planning Commission changes
- June 29, 2022: Continue Review and Recommendation to the Board of Supervisors
After certification, the Local Coastal Plan will be implemented through an updated Coastal Zoning Ordinance and revised Administration Manual. These documents are subject to the same public review, hearings, and certification process as the Local Coastal Plan, with opportunities for public input and recommendations at each step.
Previous Local Coastal Plan Drafts
Our Local Coastal Plan History
1980 Local Coastal Plan
The process of preparing the Sonoma County Local Coastal Plan (LCP) began in 1978, and from the beginning included strong citizen participation. The Draft LCP was completed and adopted by the Board of Supervisors in May 1980, certified by the Coastal Commission in December 1980, and became effective in January 1981.
However, the adoption and certification of The Sea Ranch portion of the LCP were deferred due to disagreement about public access and pending litigation between the developer Oceanic and the Coastal Commission. Following the resolution of these issues with a settlement agreement, the County developed the Land Use Plan for The Sea Ranch. In 1982 the Coastal Commission certified The Sea Ranch portion of the LCP and the LCP implementation plan that included the Administrative Manual and the Coastal Zoning Ordinance.
1989 General Plan & Local Coastal Plan
In 1989 the County adopted a new General Plan, which directed the County to update and revise the Local Coastal Plan to be consistent with the new General Plan. In 1993, 1995, 1999, and 2001 the Coastal Commission certified amendments to the LCP, which adopted technical changes to ensure consistency with the General Plan.
Current Local Coastal Plan
View the current adopted Local Coastal Plan.