The coasts belong to us all, but not everyone has equal access. Through a variety of projects, we are studying Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) issues and solutions for coastal access, in California and elsewhere.
Coastal Access Equity
The coast belongs to all of us and is held in trust by the state for the public to use and enjoy. But our ability to do so is predicated on our ability to access it—and not everyone has the same amount of access. Understanding coastal access and its availability will become increasingly important as California and other coastal societies face ever-growing pressures from climate change and coastal development. In an ongoing series of collaborations with GIS researchers, geomorphologists, and coastal policy wonks, we are analyzing the distribution of coastal access points, different demographic groups of Californians, and projections of environmental change to measure inequities in "access to access," to understand the implications of climate change for environmental justice, and to generate management-relevant policy recommendations to address these issues. Coastal development and climate change combined with shifting populations and management priorities will continue to shape the landscape of coastal access in California and elsewhere, making this a compelling topic for further inquiry.
With colleagues from the Center for Ocean Solutions, we published the first such set of results in the Stanford Environmental Law Journal in a special issue focused on the California Coastal Act. This paper quantifies disparities in access to the coast among different demographic groups of Californians.
Reineman, Wedding, Hartge, McEvry, & Reiblich. 2016. “Coastal Access Equity and the Implementation of the California Coastal Act.” Stanford Environmental Law Journal 36: 89-108. (view article)
With collaborators Kiki Patsch (CSUCI's Environmental Science & Resource Management Program), Charles Lester (UCSB's Ocean & Coastal Policy Center), Phil King (SFSU Department of Economics, emeritus), and Jose Castro-Sotomayor (CSUCI's Department of Communications), we are currently building on my initial work, combined with that of my collaborators, results to provide more management relevant insights as well as to include impacts from sea level rise. This project is funded by a nearly $500,000 grant from the CSU Council and Ocean Affairs, Science, and Technology and the University of California Sea Grant Program.
Our multiyear project, funded as the “Sustaining Beaches and Social Equity under Higher Sea Levels: An interdisciplinary case study of the Santa Barbara Littoral Cell,” began May 2021. Officially, we call it the Beach Sustainability Assessment - Comprehensive Analysis for Management Project (Visit the project website to learn more).
One of my former students, Zach Adkins, presented some related results stemming from his capstone research at CSUCI's annual research conference. It's a pretty cool project and you should check it out, too!
Adkins, Z., K.B. Patsch, and D.R. Reineman. 2019. Quantifying the accessibility of California’s coastline. Poster Presentation, 11th Annual SAGE Student Research Conference, CSU Channel Islands, Camarillo, CA. (view poster)
Read our Los Angeles Times Op-Ed: "California’s beaches closures offer a glimpse of the likely future. That should frighten us." (April 3, 2020)
What does the future hold for equitable access to California's beaches?