The Commission manages four million acres of tide and submerged lands and the beds of navigable rivers, streams, lakes, bays, estuaries, inlets, and straits. These lands, often referred to as sovereign or public trust lands, stretch from the Klamath River and Goose Lake on the north to the Tijuana Estuary and Colorado River on the south, and from the Pacific Coast three miles offshore on the west to world-famous Lake Tahoe on the east, and includes California's two longest rivers, the Sacramento and San Joaquin.
Under state law, the occupation of lands under the Commission's jurisdiction requires a lease issued by the Commission. Occupation of land under the Commission's jurisdiction without a lease is a trespass. The Commission's Lease Enforcement and Compliance Team addresses trespasses by working with the owners of the private structures on public lands to get them under lease.
The Commission has three options available if the unauthorized use is not terminated or brought under lease. First, the Commission may file suit to remove the use and to collect damages that were caused by the trespass. Second, the Commission may seek to have a third-party remove the structure if it was simply abandoned. Finally, the Commission may issue fines against persons who are in trespass.
The Commission is always working to serve the people of California by being an efficient and effective steward of the public land under its jurisdiction. Ensuring that individuals that are using the state's land are under lease is an important part of fulfilling our mission. Accurate leasing allows the Commission to know what structures and materials are being placed on its land, protects the state through indemnity and insurance provisions so that if an injury occurs taxpayer dollars are not at risk, and ensures that the state is compensated for the use of its land.
Public Resources Code sections 6224.3, 6224.4, and 6224.5 authorize the Commission to hold an informal administrative hearing to determine whether a person has placed or maintains an unauthorized structure on state land under the Commission's jurisdiction. The Commission may impose administrative penalties of up to $1,000 a day on persons found liable for unauthorized structures and may order the removal of the violating structure. The Commission recently completed a public rulemaking under the Administrative Procedures Act to add sections 3000 – 3016 to Title 2, California Code of Regulations. These regulations became effective on January 1, 2017. Collectively, they provide additional specificity to inform the administrative process.
Chief, Land Management Division
Brian Bugsch (916) 574-1940