In 1965, a group of citizens stood up to the uncontrolled development throughout the state, and the environmental destruction that accompanied it. They formed the Planning and Conservation League (PCL) to remedy the state’s fast paced development.

rural California ocean cliffs

Since then, PCL has literally changed the landscape of California through the sponsorship of bond measures that have preserved hundreds of thousands of acres of wilderness, miles and miles of sandy beaches and many square miles of habitat for endangered wildlife.

gavel and scales of justice

PCL has placed more initiatives on the statewide ballot than any other organization in California history. These successful bonds have generated more than $16 billion in new public financial resources for environmental protection, health, and transportation.

kids playing ball

PCL also played a key role in the passage of several legislatively sponsored park, environmental protection and water bonds, totaling more than $7 billion.

Working together with hundreds of partners, our collaborative successes include:

  • Establishment of a giant health and environmental fund based on tobacco taxes
  • Creation of the habitat conservation fund
  • Passage of the waste reduction act and bottle bill
  • The outlawing of mountain lion sport hunting
  • Establishment of the land conservation tax credit
  • Conception of the oil spill prevention program

We have been active for more than fifty years, winning major successes that protect California’s environment and communities. Read details in the Historic Timeline of PCL and the PCL Foundation.


50th Anniversary Gala

On November 11, 2016 Planning and Conservation League celebrated our first 50 years at a Gala in San Francisco. PCL has been a force in achieving some of the most significant environmental successes in California: California Environmental Quality Act (1970), Coastal Act (1972), Wild Rivers (1973), Rail Bond Act (1990), Tejon Ranch (2008) and many, many more. We were joined by several of PCL’s founders, dozens of Board and staff alum, and over 200 supporters who reminisced over hard-won battles and a California environmental legacy we proudly leave for generations to come.


Launched in 1965, when the environmental movement was just starting to focus on the Capitol, PCL and PCL Foundation have a rich history that has seen these organizations at the forefront of many of California’s leading environmental laws and policies, such as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Coastal Act, and providing billions of dollars from bond initiatives for parks, open space and transit. See more of PCL’s history or view PCL’s timeline.

child drinking from a water fountain

Some of the most noteworthy accomplishments in which we’ve been involved include:

  • Received the Governor’s Award for establishing the Tejon Ranch Conservation and Land Use Agreement that protected 240,000 acres of biologically important natural land
  • Helped secure a commitment to remove the seismically unsafe San Clemente Dam and restore the Carmel River watershed
  • Won a lawsuit that challenged the High Speed Rail Authority’s inadequate plans for a multi-billion dollar train network and developed a coalition to improve planning for a better train network
  • Fought off attacks on the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in the State Legislature and launched a campaign to protect the law from future assaults
  • Received the Dean Malley Sun Tzu Award for acting as the liaison between the Legislature, the Treasurer’s Office, and affected groups to develop new funding mechanisms for critical projects and ensure that all parties had the most up-to-date information throughout the bond freeze
  • Hosted regional land use summits in Sacramento, Los Angeles, and San Diego to build diverse non-profit partnerships
  • Published our Land Use Climate Action Toolkit and produced a complementary workshop series
  • Provided community workshops and launched an online resource center to support engagement with the California Environmental Quality Act.
  • Published the our Sierra Nevada Grassroots Directory (PDF)
  • Launched the California Legacy Society, the League’s major donor recognition program
  • Helped save the California Public Records Act
  • Prevailed in AB 900 litigation challenging the constitutionality of CEQA-streamlining legislation
  • Built the 200+ member CEQA Works coalition that fights to protect and strengthen CEQA
  • Published 8 Affordable Water Solutions (PDF) and worked with Senator Pavley on SB 918 to supporting recycled water use
  • Prevailed in lawsuit against the Department of Water Resources’ secretly negotiated Monterey Amendments that would have given away the largest water storage facility in the state (the Kern Water Bank)
  • Passage of the Parks Bond, Proposition 12
  • Worked diligently to pass Proposition 116, the Rail Bond Ac, for public and rail transportation
  • Passage of Proposition 117, which permanently banned trophy hunting of mountain lions
  • Passage of the Integrated Waste Management Act, AB 939
  • Ran the campaign for Proposition 70, which included $776 million for the acquisition and development of parks, open space, and coastal areas
  • Passage of the Wild Rivers Bill, SB 107
  • Passage of the Coastal Conservation Initiative and Coastal Zone and Management Act, Proposition 20
  • Conceived of and help pass Proposition 99, for public health and funds for fish, wildlife, and park programs
  • California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) – Helped to draft and pass this landmark law

Today, PCL and PCL Foundation continue to work on the leading environmental challenges facing our state, such as advocating for:

  • Statewide water policies that are economically and environmentally sustainable
  • A sensible High Speed Rail project that will achieve greenhouse gas emissions and promote smarter growth without unduly impacting our natural resources, key agricultural lands or local communities
  • Land use planning focused on our urban cores that will transform neighborhoods into thriving, livable and healthy communities
  • The integrity of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to ensure it remains a vibrant tool to empower the public to participate in decisions that impact their communities and environment