Millionaires and Beaches: The Sociopolitical Economics of California Coastal Preservation in the Twenty-First Century
Big Sur is compelling not only for its exceptional beauty but also for what it reveals about Californians’ relationship to their coastline. Today, California’s coast reflects residents’ dual desire to protect a remarkable environment and a high quality of life. The world-famous coastline is integral to the state’s economy, to residents’ sense of well-being, and to the California Dream. In Big Sur, residents and local officials pioneered creative preservation measures that would later become common throughout the state. Open-space planning, conservation easements, intergovernmental collaboration and citizen activism, land trusts, and transfer development credits all addressed preservation in an age of increasingly high land values, erratic voter support, and unpredictable government funding. The epilogue examines several key people and places that illustrate contemporary economic and social realities along the Big Sur and California coast, including Peter Douglas, the late, influential executive director of the California Coastal Commission; Billy Post, a fourth-generation Big Sur resident who helped design the luxury resort Post Ranch Inn; and the idiosyncrasies of the Big Sur softball league.
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