By Toni Atkins 12:01 a.m.Sept. 6, 2013

Updated5:05 p.m.Sept. 5, 2013

To address this challenge, I am carrying legislation, AB 976, to strengthen the protection of our coast and the rights of the public. My bill will allow the Coastal Commission to fine violators who ignore orders to comply with the law in much the same way as other environmental agencies such as the state Water Board and the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

AB 976 also will ensure opportunities to challenge fines and provides rigorous due process protections. Fines could only be imposed by a vote of the Coastal Commissioners at a noticed public hearing with all the due process protections provided in the Administrative Procedures Act, which also governs other environmental agencies. And the commission’s fines could still be challenged in court, the same way that any administrative decision can be challenged.

The people of California have made protecting our coastline one of their highest priorities. AB 976 will help ensure that the Coastal Commission has the tools to guarantee that in the future we will all continue to enjoy surfing at sunrise and sunsets on the sand.

Atkins is the Majority Leader of the California State Assembly and represents the 78th Assembly District, which runs along the coast from Imperial Beach to Solana Beach and includes La Jolla, Coronado, Del Mar, and central San Diego.