February 7, 2024

Senate Bill 951 proposes to accelerate the construction of new development projects in the coastal zone. It would change the Coastal Act in three ways; (1) by requiring rezoning in Housing Element local coastal program amendments, (2) relocating the coastal zone boundary seaward of the Great Highway and Sloat Avenue in San Francisco and (3) narrowing the types of coastal development permits approved by a coastal county that can be appealed to the Coastal Commission. The Coastal Commission voted to oppose this bill unless amended to remove sections 2 and 3 of the bill.

Why You Should Care

Excluding portions of the California Coast from the coastal zone would undermine the state’s preeminent coastal management law (the Coastal Act.). If passed, Section 2 of SB 951 would imply that any section of the California coastline where developers find the Coastal Act problematic could potentially be removed from these coastal management regulations.

Senator Weiner claimed in a press release that the intention of SB 951 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. 

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.  Read more at Surfrider’s blog here.


Pro-Coast Vote

Anti-Coast Vote

Commissioners supported the staff recommendation to oppose the bill, noting that it would be preferable to resolve any permitting issues with the City of San Francisco at the staff level and sections 2 and 3 of the bill would set a bad precedent of undoing coastal protections.

Organizations Opposed

Decision Type

Staff Recommendation

Oppose unless amended to remove sections 2 & 3

Coastal Act Policy