By Staff Writer
The California Coastal Commission released a free app last week that will allow members of the public to explore the state’s iconic coastline from their iPhone.
The YourCoast mobile phone application was developed in a unique effort by tech entrepreneur Sean Parker and the state agency in charge of protecting and enhancing California’s coast and ocean for the public. The result of a 2013 enforcement settlement, the Apple iOS YourCoast app provides a free guide to 1,563 beaches, trails, parks and visitor-serving destinations in California.
“This is an only in California story,” said Commission Chair Dayna Bochco. “Where else could you find a tech mogul partnering with a regulator to help the public get to the beach?”
The app will help visitors and residents explore California beaches. It provides directions, photos and information to find out which locations have restrooms, parking, disabled access, are dog-friendly and more. YourCoast includes hidden pocket beaches, nature trails overlooking the ocean, scenic campgrounds and waters to kayak, surf or paddleboard.
Users can also share places they want to visit with other via social media, and also enables people to look at recently viewed photos, maps and other information, even when in remote areas without cell coverage. Members of the public can also contribute photos of access points in the app.
The app was the result of the settlement of a June 2013 Coastal Act violation at a hotel campground open to the public in Big Sur, which impacted both public access and sensitive habitats. Although the previous property owner was directly responsible for the permit violations, Parker covered the penalties and agreed to work with the commission to help build something to benefit people throughout the state.
“This is a case of turning lemons into lemonade,” said Lisa Haage, the agency’s chief of enforcement. “We negotiated a creative agreement with a willing partner of great ability and expertise that will widely benefit the public. We literally ended up working with some of the world’s best tech engineers to create something that everyone can use and enjoy.”
For those without an Apple device, some of the same information is available on the Coastal Commission’s website at www.yourcoast.org. Staff is also researching the possibility of expanding the app to the Android platform.
“The California coast belongs to all of us,” said Jack Ainsworth, the commission’s executive director. “Get out there and enjoy it!”