In the early days of California, if you committed a crime, you might be run out of town by a vigilante gang. But today’s punishments in the Golden State sometimes take on a decidedly California vibe.
A recent example was the “sentence” recently handed down to tech entrepreneur Sean Parker, founder of Napster. Parker violated the California Coastal Act by building structures on sensitive ecological land in Big Sur for his wedding, without obtaining a permit. Parker paid a penalty of $2.5 million for the permit violations and worked with the California Coastal Commission to build something to benefit people throughout the state.
The result is the YourCoast mobile phone app, a free guide to 1,563 beaches, trails, parks, and visitor-serving destinations along the California coast. The app provide directions, photos, and information to help visitors and residents explore California’s beaches, all of which are open to the public.
Users can filter beaches by features such as tidepools, rocky shores, nature trails, scenic campgrounds, bike paths, dog-friendly beaches, kayaking spots, and more. Unfortunately, there’s not a filter for sea glass!
“This is a case of turning lemons into lemonade,” said Lisa Haage, the chief of enforcement at the California Coastal Commission. The commission is tasked with enforcing the California Coastal Act, which ensures that the public has free access to all beaches in the state. “We literally ended up working with some of the world’s best tech engineers to create something that everyone can use and enjoy.”
The app took five years to develop and is available on iOS devices, with plans for an Android version in the works.
“The California coast belongs to all of us,” said Jack Ainsworth, the California Coastal Commission’s executive director. “Get out there and enjoy it!” The commission’s new app makes it a lot easier to do just that.
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine March/April 2019 issue.