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Proposition 20, an initiative measure approved by California voters in November 1972, established a California Coastal Zone Conservation Commission and required it to produce a coastal plan by December 1, 1975. The Commission completed its 443-page Plan on schedule and, as the initiative required, forwarded the document to the legislature for consideration and adoption.

Although Proposition 20 required that the Plan contain, among other things, a "land-use element" and a "population element for the establishment of maximum desirable population densities," the Commission's product is notably lacking in concrete designations. One third of the Plan's length is indeed devoted to multicolored maps of coastal zone segments, but these maps essentially show existing land uses and provide no indication of what areas might ultimately be earmarked for high-density development or for stabilization. The text accompanying the maps includes general recommendations on uses, but usually in a form too general and cursory to provide much guidance.

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