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Last Updated: 1/13/2011
Budget Issue: Budget option to create General Fund savings by fully funding regulatory activities from fees
Program: California Coastal Commission
Finding or Recommendation: Increase California Coastal Commission permitting fees to fully fund coastal development regulatory activities, creating about $5 million in General Fund savings.
Further Detail

Background. The California Coastal Commission, following its initial creation in 1972 by a voter initiative, was permanently established by the State Coastal Act of 1976. The commission's core program activities include issuing and enforcing permits for coastal development. The commission retains this permitting authority in cases where a local government within the state's coastal zone does not have a local coastal plan (LCP) that has been certified by the commission. In jurisdictions with a certified LCP, coastal development permits are processed and issued by the local government, and are only seen by the commission if an appeal is filed on the basis that the permitted development conflicts with the Coastal Act.

Recommend Regulatory Activities Be Funded From Regulatory Fees. The commission currently charges some permitting fees and may levy penalties for non-compliance with the Coastal Act. However, these regulatory fees are modest, and as a result, a significant portion of regulatory activities of the commission are funded by the General Fund. In a prior-year budget analysis, Analysis of the 2004-05 Budget Bill, we recommended that the regulatory activities of the commission be fully funded by increased permitting fees. (As not all activities of the commission are tied to regulation, the commission should continue to receive General Fund support for these other nonregulatory activities.) We estimate that the Governor's budget for the commission includes about $5 million in General Fund expenditures for regulatory acitivities which are appropriately funded from regulatory fees. We offer a funding shift of $5 million from the General Fund to regulatory fees as a $5 million budget solution for legislative consideration.