The coast of California is comprised of both sandy shorelines and cliffed coastline, and in many areas these features spatially coincide. In order to better understand the regional trends of change along the California coast, the U.S. Geological Survey is quantifying both sandy shoreline change and coastal cliff retreat for the state. The resulting database was used to examine the dynamics of the beach/cliff system. We found inconsistent evidence of a relationship between rates of cliff retreat and shoreline change on the spatial scale of 100-km cells. However, when the data are correlated within individual regions, a strong relationship exists between the geomorphology of the coast and the behavior of the beach/cliff system. Areas of high-relief coast show negative correlations, indicating that higher rates of cliff retreat correlate with lower rates of shoreline erosion. In contrast, low- to moderate-relief coasts show strong positive correlations.