U.S. Department of the Interior March 3, 1849
In Reply Refer to Kl421
United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Outdoor Recreation
Washington, D.C. 20240
Mr. John A. Lee
4810 Occidental Road
Santa Rosa, California 95401
Dear Mr. Lee:
Secretary Udall has asked this Bureau to respond to your letter, and the accompanying petition from Sonoma County residents, which express concern over the effect of the “Sea Ranch” development on public access and enjoyment of the shoreline in Sonoma County.
As you may know, both the Secretary and this Bureau have become increasingly alarmed over the loss of public access and use of the Nation’s shoreline. The Department of the Interior has made a concerted effort to identify and preserve strategic areas of the shoreline, including areas such as Point Reyes National Seashore, Cape Cod National Seashore, and Cape Hatteras National Seashore. However, in view of the rising demand for outdoor recreation and the accelerated rate of private development of the shoreline, the Federal effort must be supported and supplemented by similar efforts on the part of the State and local governments. Except where filling or dredging are involved, the Federal Government has no jurisdiction in controlling private development along the coastline. As you know, such developments are subject to locally determined zoning, subdivision, and other regulations. I understand that there are State holdings along the Sonoma coast, and therefore the State of California might well have an interest in insuring public access to this section of the coastline. If you have not already done so, I would recommend that you contact Mr. William Penn Mott, Jr., Director of the California Department of Parks and Recreation. It is our strong belief that the coastline of the Nation represents a priceless national asset which should be recognized by government
The $7 Annual Golden Eagle Passport admits carload of people year-long to all designated Federal recreation areas
At all levels, as well as by private interests. Reflecting this view, many localities have adopted special zoning classifications, subdivision regulations, ects., which are designed to guide development in scenic and coastal areas. The “planned unit development” has been a useful tool to many localities in such instances. Under this system, certain concessions, e.g., smaller lot size, reduced street widths, etc., are granted to a developer in return for the permanent preservation of open space, park lands, access points, and the acceptance of architectural and other controls which are necessary to protect the public’s interest in the development of these areas. All of these matters, however, should be firmly agreed to on both sides before the private developer is permitted to proceed with his development. It would certainly appear that a development along the Sonoma County coastline would qualify for such classification by your local planning commission. We are not directly acquainted with the development in Sonoma County but it would certainly appear that the position which the County takes in regard to the “Sea Ranch” development would establish a precedent in dealing with subsequent development along the coastline. We are forwarding your letter and accompanying petition to Senator Kuchel and Congressman Clausen for their information. I regret that we cannot be of more direct assistance to you in your very commendable efforts to guarantee to the future residents of Sonoma County the access and enjoyment of one of the truly great scenic areas of the country. You may be assured however, that we will continue to be interested in you efforts. Please do not hesitate to contact us again if we can provide any assistance.
A. Heaton Underhill
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