The challenge of protecting and expanding shoreline access is on-going, from the projected loss of beaches due to sea level rise, to widespread gentrification in the coastal zone. Dr. Lester brings significant experience working with public access and recreation issues in California to the question of how we can assure equitable coastal access for all citizens. His current research is exploring how the public tideland trust doctrine may help us realize the vision of coastal access for all. 

Capitola Beach



Public tidelands are the quintessential shared coastal resource—a public commons held in trust for all citizens. But protecting our public tidelands in the face of sea-level rise is another critically important piece of the challenge of adapting to inherently dynamic shorelines in a time of climate change. How should we manage the inherent tensions between California's public tidelands, which are below the mean high tide, and the often private and other uplands above mean high tide? Sea level rise will move the line between tidelands and uplands increasingly inland, raising all sorts of questions about public access, private property, and shoreline protection. Here is a recent report and presentation to the California Coastal Commission, prepared by Dr. Lester at OCPC, that examines some of these questions.

Report: Protecting Public Trust Shoreline Resources in the Face of Sea Level Rise

Presentation: California Coastal Commission Presentation on Protecting Public Trust Shoreline Resources (begins at 1:08:42)



The story of Hollister Ranch, along the north coast of Santa Barbara County, captures the challenge of balancing public and private rights along the shoreline, as well as the importance of considering the broader environmental and cultural heritages that frame the private property holdings on the ranch. Check out this short film on Vimeo from the Carsey-Woods Center, featuring Dr. Lester and others from the Santa Barbara community. More information about Hollister Ranch public access issues is also available at the Coastal Commission website.