The California Coastal Act protects creeks, wetlands, and other habitats that are especially rare or valuable called environmentally sensitive habitat areas (ESHAs). The biological resources chapter includes policies to protect sensitive habitats and clarify development standards for projects within or near these habitats.
Most jurisdictions have specific creek and habitat buffers in their Local Coastal Programs. The advantage of having specific numerical buffers is that everyone (homeowners, City decision makers, California Coastal Commission, and the public) knows what to expect, there is more consistency in permitting development, and processing times and appeals of permits can be reduced.
The biological resources chapter includes creek and habitat development buffers that are protective of creek erosion hazards, ESHA, and water quality, but also factor in that the City is an urban landscape with limited options for moving structures away from creeks and habitats. Policies also address situations where the minimum required buffers cannot be met on severely constrained lots.