Established in 1938, the Commission manages 4 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 in the north to the Tijuana Estuary in the south, and the Colorado River in the east, and from the Pacific Coast 3 miles offshore in the west to world-famous Lake Tahoe in the east, and includes California’s two longest rivers, the Sacramento and San Joaquin.
The Commission also monitors sovereign land granted in trust by the California Legislature to approximately 70 local jurisdictions that generally consist of prime waterfront lands and coastal waters. The Commission protects and enhances these lands and natural resources by issuing leases for use or development, providing public access, resolving boundaries between public and private lands, and implementing regulatory programs to protect state waters from oil spills and invasive species introductions. Through its actions, the Commission secures and safeguards the public’s access rights to navigable waterways and the coastline and preserves irreplaceable natural habitats for wildlife, vegetation, and biological communities.
The Commission also protects state waters from marine invasive species introductions and prevents oil spills by providing the best achievable protection of the marine environment at all marine oil terminals in California and offshore oil platforms and production facilities.
History of the Commission
The office predating the Commission was created in 1849 and known as the Surveyor General. The Surveyor General, a constitutional officer elected by the people, surveyed and mapped the boundaries of state sovereign land, determined the state’s mineral resource potential, and determined its agricultural and domestic animal population. The Surveyor General was also the engineer and commissioner of improvements to roads, canals, timber resources, draining of marshes, and irrigation project development. The office was abolished in 1929 and its responsibilities were transferred to the Department of Finance and its Division of State Lands.
In 1937, serious irregularities surfaced regarding the execution of a boundary line agreement in Malibu, settlement of trespass litigation that had been brought against Union Oil, and the issuance of permits for oil drilling in Huntington Beach. The Personnel Board charged and dismissed a Division Chief and Petroleum Production Inspector from state service. The necessity of an independent commission that makes its decisions in public was made apparent by the behavior of these individuals. Because of this malfeasance and the significant controversy surrounding the state’s management and development of its oil and gas resources, and because of a desire to create a high level and autonomous board to make its decisions in a public forum, the State Lands Act was established in 1938 and the California State Lands Commission was created. The Commission was created as an independent body consisting of three members.
Since 1938, the Commission has consisted of these same members: the Lieutenant Governor, the State Controller, and the Governor’s Director of Finance. The combination of the two principal financial officers of the state with two statewide elected officials ensures that decisions made by the Commission are fiscally sound and in the best interests of the state. Public awareness and participation are assured because Commission actions occur at properly noticed public meetings.
Division Information & Contacts
Under the direction of the Executive Officer, the Executive Office plans, organizes, manages, coordinates and administers the work of the Commission staff consistent with the decisions, policies, and programs established by the Commission and the Legislature. The Executive Office employs the expertise of staff in each of the Commission’s divisions to accomplish the Commission’s mission, vision, and Strategic Plan objectives while responding to emerging challenges.
Jennifer Lucchesi | Jennifer.Lucchesi@slc.ca.gov | 916.574.1800
Administrative Services Division
The Administrative Services Division is a customer service division that provides a full-range of vital administrative services in support of the Commission staff. The division includes the Fiscal, Human Resources, Accounting, Equal Employment Opportunity, Records Management, Business Services, and Office Services Units.
Chief, Administrative Services
Denise Cook | Denise.Cook@slc.ca.gov | 916.574.2494
Environmental Planning & Management Division
Acting Chief, Environmental Planning & Management Division
Eric Gillies | Eric.Gillies@slc.ca.gov | 916.574.1957
External Affairs Division
Chief, External Affairs Division
Sheri Pemberton | Sheri.Pemberton@slc.ca.gov | 916.574.1992
Information Services Division
Chief Information Officer
Michael Farinha | email@example.com | 916.574.1818
Land Management Division
Chief, Land Management Division
Brian Bugsch | Brian.Bugsch@slc.ca.gov | 916.574.1940
Seth Blackmon | Seth.Blackmon@slc.ca.gov | 916.574.1850
Marine Environmental Protection Division
Chief, Marine Environmental Protection
Chris Beckwith | Chris.Beckwith@slc.ca.gov | 562.499.6312
Mineral Resources Management Division
The Mineral Resources Management Division is responsible for the safe and environmentally sound development, regulation, and management of all energy and mineral resources on sovereign and school lands under the jurisdiction of the Commission. These resources include oil, gas, geothermal energy, gold and other solid minerals. In managing the prudent development of these resources, the Division’s highest priorities are public safety, environmental protection, and maximizing revenue generation.
Chief, Mineral Resources Management
Marina Voskanian | Marina.Voskanian@slc.ca.gov | 562.590.5291
Mission, Vision & Inclusion Statements
The California State Lands Commission provides the people of California with effective stewardship of the lands, waterways, and resources entrusted to its care through preservation, restoration, enhancement, responsible economic development, and the promotion of public access.
The California State Lands Commission is a recognized leader that champions environmentally sustainable public land management and balanced resource protection for the benefit and enjoyment of all current and future generations of Californians.
We value diversity at all levels and are committed to fostering an inclusive environment where our employees from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences are able to leverage their strengths and unique insights to further the Commission’s mission and thrive.
The Commission adopted a Strategic Plan in December 2015. This plan, the culmination of robust stakeholder collaboration, positions the Commission as a leader in land and resource management, prioritizes transparency, establishes the highest levels of safety and environmental protection, and is anchored on leveraging technology to increase public engagement and be more innovative and effective in its service to the people of California.
This strategic plan equips the Commission to adapt to emerging challenges and opportunities, while creating a meaningful and rich framework to achieve California’s policy goals, champion public access, and enforce the protections of the Public Trust Doctrine. The status of the Commission’s implementation of the plan is below, including the current status for each action.