Established in 1938, the California State Lands Commission (Commission) manages 4 million acres of tide and submerged lands and the beds of natural 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. Through its actions, the Commission secures and safeguards the public’s access rights to natural navigable waterways and the coastline and preserves irreplaceable natural habitats for wildlife, vegetation, and biological communities.

What lands are under the Commission’s jurisdiction?

The lands under the Commission’s jurisdiction are primarily sovereign (the beds of tidal and navigable waters acquired at statehood in 1850) and school lands (lands granted by the United States to California in 1853 to support the public school system). More information on these types of lands can be found on the Land Types page. The Commission generally does not have management authority over lands owned by other state agencies or where schools are actually located. There are instances, however, where other state agencies or other property owners may own the fee title in land, but the Commission manages the mineral interests on behalf of the state.

How do I know if I need a lease from the Commission?

If you are planning on using or constructing any type of structure on lands under the Commission’s jurisdiction, or developing any resources or minerals located on, or otherwise occupying any lands under the Commission’s jurisdiction, a lease is likely necessary. The best course of action is to call or submit an inquiry to the Commission. The contact number for general leasing questions is 916.574.1940 and the contact number for mineral or resource leasing information is 562.590.5201.

Source: California State Lands Commission About page and Frequently Asked Questions page.