About the California State Lands Commission

The members of the State Lands "Commission" include the Lieutenant Governor, the State Controller and the State Director of Finance. The first two are statewide elected officials while the last is a cabinet level officer appointed by the Governor.

The California State Lands Commission was established in 1938 with authority detailed in Division 6 of the California Public Resources Code.

The Commission is assisted by a staff of more than 200 specialists in mineral resources, land management, boundary determination, petroleum engineering and the natural sciences. The staff is supervised by an Executive Officer appointed by the Commission.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Commission’s jurisdiction?

The California State Lands Commission (Commission) has jurisdiction and management control over certain public lands of the State that were received by the State from the United States.  These lands are of two distinct types - sovereign and school lands.

Sovereign Lands

When California became a state in 1850, it acquired approximately four million acres of land underlying the State’s navigable and tidal waterways.  Known as sovereign lands, these lands include the beds of California’s navigable rivers, lakes and streams, as well as the state’s tide and submerged lands along the State’s more than 1,100 miles of coastline and offshore islands from the mean high tide line to three nautical miles offshore. 

The Commission holds its sovereign lands for the benefit of all the people of the State, subject to the Public Trust for water related commerce, navigation, fisheries, recreation, open space and other recognized Public Trust uses.  The Commission maintains a multiple use management policy to assure the greatest possible public benefit is derived from these lands.  The Commission will consider numerous factors in determining whether a proposed use of the State's land is appropriate, including, but not limited to, consistency with the Public Trust under which the Commission holds the State's sovereign lands.  Applicants are advised that the Commission is under no obligation to approve any application submitted.  The Commission may approve, condition, or deny any application, based upon the above referenced factors or other issues raised during the application review process.

School Lands

Lands that remain of the nearly 5.5 million acres throughout the state originally granted to California by Congress in 1853 to benefit public education.  Many of the school land parcels have been sold; however, the state retains fee ownership of approximately 470,000 acres and also retains the mineral rights to an additional 790,000 acres.  Management of the school lands is split between two Commission divisions, the Land Management Division (LMD) and the Mineral Resources Management Division (MRMD).  The LMD is responsible for the surface management program under which all surface resources on school lands, with the exception of mineral activities, are administered.  The MRMD is responsible for the geothermal, mineral and oil and gas programs, which involves the leasing of school lands for various mining activities and geothermal, oil and gas development.

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

If you are planning on building upon or otherwise occupying any lands described above, such activity may be within the Commission’s jurisdiction.  The best course of action is to call or submit an inquiry to the Commission.  The Commission’s address is:

California State Lands Commission
100 Howe Avenue Suite 100 South
Sacramento, CA 95825-8202

Leasing information (916) 574-1940
Mineral Leasing information (562) 590-5201

Upon receipt of an inquiry about the proposed use of State lands, the Commission's Title Unit reviews its files and information submitted to determine the extent of the State's property interest in the project site.  If staff determines that the proposed project is within the Commission’s jurisdiction, you will be advised and an application must be submitted.  No project can proceed until the Commission has considered and taken action on the application. 

What are the costs?

Each applicant is required to pay the Commission's costs of processing the application.  Each applicant, at the time of filing an application, is required to submit a Filing Fee and the appropriate Minimum Expense Deposit or Approximate Expense Deposit (AED) as set forth below.  Each applicant will also be asked to execute a reimbursement agreement to cover the total cost of processing the application, including environmental processing.  The Minimum and Approximate Expense Deposits listed below are based upon typical Commission costs to process routine, uncomplicated transactions, and includes services such as: initial title determination, preparing and circulating environmental documents, coordination with appropriate public agencies, field inspections, preparing the document requested and land description, and office technical review and may not cover the total cost of processing all applications.  Any unused portion of the AED will be refunded and any additional expense will be billed.

A.    Filing Fee.   Same fee required of all applicants.    $ 25.00
B.    Minimum and Approximate Expense Deposits for Processing Fees.  Use the chart below to determine the deposit required for your project.



Commercial Lease (New)
Industrial Lease (New)
Right of Way 
$  2,500.00
Public Agency Lease/Permit 
$  3,000.00
Recreational Pier Lease
$  1,000.00
Protective Structure
$  2,500.00
Grazing or other Agricultural Lease
$  2,500.00
Dredging Lease
$  1,500.00
Lake Tahoe Trust Inspections 
$  1,000.00
Consent to Encumber Leasehold 
$  1,000.00
Assignment not involving amendment of Lease 
$  1,000.00
Amendment of Lease to accommodate Lessee 
$  2,000.00
Sublease Approval
$  1,500.00
Most other transactions not listed herein
$  1,500.00



New Oil and Gas Lease (negotiated, subsurface development only)
Assignment of an Existing Offshore Lease (Oil & Gas)
Mineral Extraction Lease (preferential or negotiated)
$  7,500.00
Geological/Geophysical Survey Permit (no economic development)       
$  5,000.00
Geothermal Resources Prospecting Permit
$  5,000.00
Assignment of Subsurface Lease to a proposed Lessee who is not a current or former State Lessee (includes amendment, negotiated Oil & Gas lease)
$  5,000.00
Geothermal Resources Lease or Amendment
$  5,000.00
Mineral Prospecting Permit (non-exempt activity)
$  5,000.00
Modification of Surface Entry Right (reserved mineral interest lands)
$  5,000.00
Mineral Extraction Lease Renewal / Modification
$  3,000.00
Mineral Prospecting Permit (CEQA-exempt activity; includes geologic mapping and surface sampling only, initial term of one year)
$  3,000.00
Assignment of Subsurface Lease to existing Lessee (includes amendment, negotiated Oil & Gas lease)
$  3,000.00
Mineral Prospecting Permit Extension / Amendment
$  3,000.00
Assignment of Subsurface Lease to existing Lessee (negotiated Oil & Gas lease)
$  1,500.00
$  1,000.00

In addition to the above listed application processing fees, the Commission may require reimbursement of its costs in providing other services associated with processing applications for leases.  These services include but are not limited to:

  1. Processing environmental documents;
  2. Review of environmental documents by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (See Fish and Wildlife Code Section 711.4);
  3. Advertising or public notification;
  4. Duplicating or certifying papers;
  5. Searching records or ordering title reports;
  6. Processing archaeological, biological or other necessary surveys;
  7. Appraisals;
  8. Monitoring compliance with environmental mitigation requirements of lease;
  9. Lease management, including rent reviews, compliance with lease terms, etc; or
  10. Engineering Review

Upon receipt of an application form and a determination by staff of estimated costs to process the application, an applicant will be provided a reimbursement agreement to assure recovery by the Commission of the total cost to process the application for the use of State land. 

What kind of environmental review is required?

The issuance by the Commission of any lease, permit or other entitlement for use of State lands is reviewed for compliance with the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  The CEQA may be found in the California Public Resources Code (PRC), sections 21000 et seq., which provisions are complemented by the State CEQA Guidelines, California Code of Regulations, Title 14, sections 15000 et seq.  No proposed project will be considered by the Commission until the requirements of the CEQA have been satisfied.  Additionally, if the application involves lands found to contain "Significant Environmental Values" within the meaning of PRC section 6370 et seq., consistency of the proposed use with the identified values must also be determined through the CEQA review process.  Pursuant to its regulations, the Commission may not issue a lease for use of "Significant Lands" if such proposed use is detrimental to the identified values.

Most leases or other entitlements for use of State lands may require approvals from other federal, State or local agencies.  On many proposed projects the Commission is the Lead Agency under the CEQA (the public agency with the principal responsibility for carrying out or approving a project) and is therefore responsible for preparing the environmental documentation appropriate to each project.

How do I get started?

You may call the Commission at (916) 574-1940.  Your call will be directed to a staff person assigned to the geographic location of your project.  This staff person can assist you in determining if the project is within the Commission’s jurisdiction or advise you of what information or materials will be necessary to make a determination.  If it appears that is likely that a lease or other authorization would be required, this person can also assist you in completing the application.

More about what the California State Lands Commission does

Environmental justice policy

The California State Lands Commission adopted an amended Environmental Justice Policy on October 1, 2002, that replaces an interim Policy the Commission adopted in April 2002. Before adoption of this amended Policy, the Commission distributed the interim Policy to 51 Environmental Justice and community organizations throughout California with an invitation to comment. Based on the comments received and additional staff review, the Policy was revised to make it more effective and comprehensive.

The purpose of the Policy is to ensure that Environmental Justice is an essential consideration in the Commission's processes, decisions and programs and that all people who live in California have a meaningful way to participate in these activities.

public trust

At its meeting on April 24, 2001, the California State Lands Commission requested information on the Public Trust Doctrine and the role the Commission plays in administering the Public Trust. The Commission also directed staff to prepare an informative statement that it could adopt that would guide Public Trust lands grantees, lease applicants and the public in understanding how the Public Trust Doctrine applies to granted and state-owned Public Trust lands.

At the September 17, 2001 meeting of the Commission, staff presented a policy statement setting forth a statement for administration of Public Trust lands and a paper prepared by the Attorney General's Office discussing Public Trust Law with particular emphasis on what the courts have found to be proper trust uses in the past and what can be gleaned from case law regarding proposals for new and different uses of Public Trust lands. The policy statement was adopted by a 3-0 vote.

The materials presented here are intended to assist in the understanding of the Commission's role in exercising its discretion as each factual situation arises and to provide assistance to potential Public Trust land users and grantees. In determining whether a proposed use is consistent with the Public Trust Doctrine and in the best interests of the state, the Commission will consider other legal requirements such as the Coastal Act and the California Environmental Quality Act as well as the views of various public groups, businesses or other relevant sectors of California society.

This presentation of the Public Trust Doctrine was developed by the staff of the California State Lands Commission and was presented in workshop settings in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Mission / Vision / Goals / Values

Mission Statement

The staff of the California State Lands Commission serves the people of California by providing stewardship of the lands, waterways, and resources entrusted to its care through economic development, protection, preservation, and restoration.

Vision Statement

The staff of the California State Lands Commission works as a team to set the standard for excellence in public land management and resource protection to ensure the future quality of the environment and balanced use of the lands and resources entrusted to its care.

Organizational Goals

  1. Protect, restore, enhance, and preserve resources on State Lands
  2. Manage State lands to generate revenues, enhance the economy, and assure ongoing viability of the resource while protecting the environment.
  3. Expand public use and access to and along the State's inland and coastal waters.
  4. Achieve excellence and improve efficiency and effectiveness of the Commission operations.
  5. Create better public understanding about the Commission's responsibilities and programs.
  6. Obtain funding for Commission Policy priorities.


  • We treat customers and each other with integrity, respect, and professionalism.
  • We are all one team - working together towards a common vision.
  • We strive for open, clear, and honest internal and external communication.
  • We are committed to personal and organizational accountability and responsibility.
  • We are sensitive to the long-term impacts of our decisions.
  • We recognize staff as our greatest asset and encourage personal and professional growth.
  • We continuously improve our processes.
  • We provide quality customer service.
  • We strive for a balance among competing uses and long term protection of natural resources.
  • We respect the trust responsibilities which govern the land and resources entrusted to our care.

California Relay Services:
From TTY Phone 1-800-735-2929
From Voice Phone 1-800-735-2922