A unique partnership between the California Coastal Commission and California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) streamlines transportation projects with positive environmental features along the California coast. Tami Grove, the commission’s transportation manager, describes how this partnership came to fruition and where it hopes to go in the future.
- Be open to unfamiliar partnerships. “Partnerships between coastal zone management programs and local transportation agencies are not ones we see too regularly. However, we see how mutually beneficial this 20-year partnership has been to California’s coast,” shares Tami.
- Institute a conflict resolution and communications strategy. Key parts of a successful, long-term partnership include conducting a review of how the agencies communicate, paying attention to what works and what doesn’t, attempting to resolve conflicts quickly, and instituting regular meetings and other check-in activities.
- Collaborate early and often. To avoid problems and unnecessary permit delays down the line, commission staff members collaborate early and often with Caltrans’ planning and engineering personnel to promote plans and designs that are consistent with coastal policies. This streamlined approach benefits both agencies.
- Find and highlight shared goals. While it may seem that there are more differences than similarities, highlighting shared missions and strategic plan goals helped both agencies find common ground.
- Think of the big picture. To really make an impact, partners must work from a corridor perspective—not simply on an individual, project-by-project basis.
- Programmatic approaches are key. Sharing information on best practices and designs helps support better projects and more programmatic permitting options. Permitting hurdles can be a barrier to techniques such as nature-based solutions. Tami wants to consider how to make permitting processes more clear and predictable for these types of projects, because doing so will make them more likely to be utilized by transportation agencies.
- Share the pride of results. Tami notes that innovative transportation projects with positive environmental outcomes require complex negotiations with local, state, and federal entities and a variety of stakeholders. All participants should be recognized and celebrated for their contributions toward successful results.