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Posts Tagged ‘Peter Douglas’

California Coastal Commission - Why Funding Swap Makes Sense

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

The California Department of Justice (DOJ) wants to be compensated by California’s state agencies for legal services. It is a reasonable request - considering that last year, the DOJ lost $30 million of its budget and had to cut 130 attorneys from its staff.

As a way to manage their caseload and still provide legal services for state agencies, the DOJ is proposing to have the state re-allocate funds usually provided to the DOJ, to the general fund agencies, and in turn, have the agencies pay the DOJ for legal services provided.

The DOJ annual General Fund has sometimes not been sufficient to accommodate all of the legal services requested by the various agencies, which then outsource private counsel at up to double the cost than if they had been represented by DOJ.

The Governor’s budget overview projected a shortfall for the 2010-11 fiscal year of $6.9 billion, this deficit has grown by $13 billion in the budget, with the largest chunk - $4.9 billion - the result of Federal and State Court Litigation!

Opponents of the funding swap, including Peter Douglas, executive director of the California Coastal Commission, have complained that it would be “the greatest threat to the integrity of the Coastal Act since it was passed.”

This is simply untrue.

SINS OF COMMISSION documents the California Coastal Commission’s long history of overstepping the authority provided it under the California Coastal Act. Stopping the commission’s free ride on legal expenses would required it to prioritize its focus and keep it from capricious costly litigation.

The funding swap may reduce the Commission’s dictatorial pattern of obstructionist rulings, which are in clear violation of the Coastal Act and the Constitution, as when it picks unnecessary fights with families, farmers and ranchers at the expense of broader planning.

This important tax-saving, fair-minded proposal is long overdue.

If you would like to express your support for the legal funding swap please contact:

http://www.assembly.ca.gov/acs/subcommitteeframe.asp?subcommittee=125

http://www.assembly.ca.gov/acs/newcomframeset.asp?committee=18

http://www.sen.ca.gov/ftp/sen/committee/sub/BFR_4_AGENCIES/_home1/PROFILE.HTM

http://www.sen.ca.gov/ftp/sen/committee/sub/BFR_2_JUSTICE/_home1/PROFILE.HTM

Speaking of funding…

SINS OF COMMISSION is a fiscally sponsored film through the International Documentary Association, a 501 c3 non profit organization. This means you can support SINS OF COMMISSION the movie,  freedom of speech, documentary film making, the International Documentary Association, and receive a tax deduction at the same time.

MEMO TO: Sara Wan RE: The Coast is Under Attack

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Sara, read your open letter on CALITICS website, and I’d like to share a few thoughts.

Aren’t you being a bit over dramatic, crying wolf, telling everyone that the coast is under attack? Unless of course, you’re saying The Crab Monsters are at it again… and that’s some serious Mojo.

On the contrary, Ms. Wan, coastal people say that you, the California Coastal Commission, are the attackers.

People living along the coast of California welcome this new legislation, and consider it is very good news for ALL the people of California especially if pending legislation in the Public Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ)  requires the Coastal Commission to pay for all legal services previously supplied by the Attorney General (and swept under the rug - so to speak). The People of California need to know how much your commission really spends..

This is something that should have been done long ago - but now is a good time to start.

The California families you sue, that defend themselves in court against the California Coastal Commission, pay their own legal bills.

Maybe now is a good time for the CCC to return to doing what you were supposed to do when the voters passed proposition 20, e.g., protect the coast, that area from the mean high tide land to 1,000 yards in land. By the way you do such good work on the Navy Sonar marine mammal issues and overwhelming plastic debris…why not just stick the coast of California, as it was defined before you and the California Coastal Commission skewered the definition of “coast” to allow you to blitz-krieg  inland?

This new budget proposal would force you to stay away from people’s homes, and private property…and stay the heck out of their lives.

This would also mean the California Coastal Commission would be have to think real hard before it capriciously attacked picnic tables, rogue rose bushes, eucalyptus trees, horses,  sheep, goats, showers, house colors, trespass on private property, spy on folks, extort people’s land out from under them in exchange for a building permit or any other stuff like that.

This may be also a good time to send Mr. Cease-and-Desist Douglas packing especially since he’s so darn sue-happy.  You commissars have done enough to wreck life, liberty and the California economy. Maybe this may be why so many Californians are angry.

You also say that, ” the commission may be unable to initiate lawsuits to protect public access or other coastal resources.” This is a load of rubbish. I’m sure you will still have an appropriate budget to be spent wisely… like on the beach -however this also means you have to close your department of silly lawsuits. In case you elitist imperialists haven’t noticed… times are tough for We the people.

You say, “Jerry Brown’s (the Attorney General) budget people support this bad idea.” Could that mean Jerry B does too? And perhaps what you’re calling a bad idea is actually a real good idea…and an idea that is  way overdue.

You say, “this also effectively means that the Commission would be unable to deny any applicant or to impose any conditions on any proposal that the applicant opposes, based on whether the Commission could afford the cost of litigation.”  Yes, that is what it effectively means.

What this proposal also suggests is that  your bad-ass commission needs to stop the 30 year wave of terror. Quit lying and trying to steal folk’s land, then hiding underneath the judge’s robes. And most important of all - quit storm-trooping around people’s private property.

Like what you’re reading? Here’s how you can help --

SINS OF COMMISSION is fiscally sponsored film by International Documentary Association, a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to the art and advancement of all documentary films.

This means you can support SINS OF COMMISSION and receive a tax deduction at the same time when you donate through the International Documentary Association. Simply click the DONATE NOW link on the upper right… or the Crab Monsters may attack you next..

California Coastal Commission - Pirates of California

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

Many good citizens up and down the coast of California would agree, these are treacherous times on the California Coast.  While the California Coastal Commission’s shills gloat that “justice” has been done in Corona del Mar… has it?  And if so, exactly what justice was it…and what is the cost to all the citizen of California? I would be amused my fair state spent decades and countless thousands of dollars and man-hours against a picnic table if it wasn’t so pathetic. Why doesn’t the governor or legislature have the balls to stand up to the California Coastal Commission?

The answer is, for the past 30 years, a revolution has been underway on the California coast orchestrated by a petty tyrant named Peter Douglas. This revolution as been largely unnoticed except for the poor unfortunates who have come up against this putsch in land use management. If the commission succeeds at what they do, then their actions become a template for other quasi judicial organizations like them in other states.

This revolution can be identified by the sophisticated land acquisition techniques that stir conflict between property rights and environmental resources - like improperly designating land ESHA when it isn’t. Placing an endangered species on an unsuspecting party’s land, and then “finding it” later. Declaring puddles, ruts and pot holes to be wetlands. Nasty stuff like that. Other techniques include trespassing, spying, bleeding families of all of their fiscal resources, tying them up in endless, costly litigation, and depriving them of full use of their land, like George and Sharlee McNamee, or in some cases driving them off their land altogether. Yeah, California Coastal Commission supporters, really something to be proud of.

The California Coastal Commission, state land trusts, in concert with the National Park Service, and their proponents break constitutional law, use fake science, skew data... and it’s all accepted by the California judiciary - because regulatory law presumes the commission is correct..

To implement resource protection plans, existing governmental agencies and nonprofit land trusts have experimented with emerging and often controversial nonregulatory approaches to land use problems. In California, this experimentation was accompanied by the creation of new governmental agencies, set up specifically for these purposes.

Joseph E. Petrillo, author “ Coastal Management” Volume 16, Issue 1 1988

Our government’s been bought out from under us.

Another issue that is integral to understanding the extraordinarily high win rate of the California Coastal Commission in courts is the issue of a fair, incorruptible judiciary. Our government is not broken; it’s been bought out from under us. No wonder people have lost faith.

In the movie, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” idealistic freshman US Sen. Jeff Smith (Jimmy Stewart) reminds us that it is the struggle that counts. “Lost causes are the only causes worth fighting for,” he says. Just before collapsing on the Senate Floor, he croaks, “you fight for the lost causes even harder than the others

Time for Change on the California Coast

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

“Power never concedes anything without a demand; it never has and it never will.”

Frederick Douglass (no relation to Peter Douglas)

Yesterday’s blog post was about secret back room deals resulting in a covert agreement between an environmental grout Environmental Defense Center, EDC and Huston based Oil company PXP. This revelation seems to suggest just how twisted our system has become and offers the possibility that the system may be too broken to be fixed by politicians, commissions, and other so-called government insiders.

Regarding all matters coastal, change if it going to be real, and long lasting must come from outside Sacramento. It is time for all of us to take a good sharp look at the California Coastal Commission, and other land management resource agencies to see exactly how things get done along the coast of California.

Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

Martin Luther King

I always wonder why we people say we won’t get fooled again but inevitably do. Could it be that the new boss is the same as the old boss?

Filmmaker Defends First Amendment Rights Against California Coastal Commission

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Filmmaker Richard Oshen’s documentary film SINS OF COMMISSION www.sinsofcommission.com has been subpoenaed by the primary star of the film, the California Coastal Commission.

The film, the first behind-the-scenes look at decades of alleged government corruption and malfeasance by the highly secretive Commission, features a first time in-depth, on camera interview with Peter Douglas, the Commission’s executive director of 20 plus years, as well as with former Commission members.

The sweep of the subpoena includes “all visual and/or audio recordings…as well as Mr. Oshen’s unpublished “Sins of Commission DVD.”

-David Greene, The First Amendment Project

The filmmaker believes the Commission is determined to stop the release of this film and is doing everything in its power to stop it, and Oshen sees the subpoena as the first step.

It’s a sad commentary for America when a government commission at the heart of an investigative documentary film, can summon a work print and raw footage of the film that they believe is exposing their decisions.  If they have nothing to hide - what are they afraid of?

-Richard Oshen, SINS OF COMMISSION producer/director

Oshen believes that the reporter’s privilege, based on the First Amendment and the Liberty of Speech Clause of the California Constitution, applies to him and all documentary filmmakers, as well as print journalists.

Other courts have found that the reporter’s privilege applies to documentary filmmakers, most notably in Silkwood v. Kerr McGee and the same constitutional privilege of press applies to SINS OF COMMISSION - even though the documentary film lacks a distribution deal or a filmmaker, like Richard Oshen, has not previously produced a documentary film.

The First Amendment Project is defending Mr. Oshen and SINS OF COMMISSION and set forth objections in a letter to the CCC. David Greene, staff attorney and executive director at First Amendment Project says the Supreme Court of the United States recognizes the privilege based on the broad protections for Freedom of the Press, extends to documentary filmmakers.

The litmus test is whether the information sought was obtained during the course of gathering information for dissemination to the public - which Sins of Commission was.

Constitutional protection afforded a documentarian to shield his journalistic work product from subpoenas benefits not only that documentarian, but the public in general.

-David Greene, The First Amendment Project

He added that without these protections, news gatherers of all kinds would be discouraged from investigating, and the public would ultimately suffer by being denied access to important information.

For more information, contact David Greene at The First Amendment Project (510) 208-7744 or Richard Oshen 909 547-6262, sinsofcommission@gmail.com

Time for PETER DOUGLAS to take a hike

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

California Coastal families, farmers, and ranchers are not enemies of the state and deserve equal protection under the law.

Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.

-Thomas Jefferson

We celebrate our Nation’s Birthday in a few days. It’s a good time to reflect on what we Americans stand for…and what we don’t.  At a time we are fighting tyranny overseas, let us not forget to stand up to tyranny in our own backyard.

There is a concept in America we call “term limits”. They apply to everyone in office, including  Peter Douglas, Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission. Can anyone name someone besides Mr. Douglas who has reigned in office as long as Sir Peter?

In a Monarchy, kings reign… in a democracy, elected officials serve the people - all of the people for limited terms.

-Richard Oshen filmmaker

Amendment 22 to the United States Constitution ratified February 1951, specifies term limits for the President of the United States. Seems that Mr. Douglas thus declares himself to be above the constitution. Like the rights to property Mr D despises, he seems to view the constitution as a petty annoyance.

In a 1997 speech at a conference in Monterey…Peter Douglas called for the U.S. Constitution to be amended to make courts the “arbiters” in what he called the “debate” over property owners’ rights. That seems to be the issue right there, Mr. Douglas:

Property rights is not a debate. It is the LAW OF THE LAND.

Me thinks this is the trouble in a nutshell. Did Mr. Douglas or did he not take a Civil Service oath to defend and protect the constitution of the United States? If he did, he hasn’t done a good job of it… if not it is a charade on scale unparalleled in California, possibly the nation, and must not be permitted to stand any longer.

In my 90 minute interview with Peter Douglas for SINS OF COMMISSION, Mr. Douglas makes a bold, provocative statement on camera that he is not a civil servant - Question: If Mr. Douglas is not a civil servant, then who or what does Peter Douglas serve?

I was appointed on a seven to five vote. And there have been at least 11 attempts to get rid of me over the years because people don’t, for whatever reason, uh, can’t control me. And I’m (Stammers) the only non-civil service employee of the Coastal Commission. Everybody else is civil service.

- Peter Douglas, SINS OF COMMISSION

If he is not a civil servant…all the more reason to to send him packing. Especially after the Ramirez Canyon travesty SHAME ON YOU!

Time to break up the CCC’s corrupt fiefdom, especially with so many overlapping regulatory agencies in the state. It seems to me the resource agencies can be streamlined - trim the fat, and become much more efficient thus saving an already overburdened budget, and WE the people, lots of money.

The commission’s little scheme works like this: The governor selects 4 commissioners, the speaker 4 and legislature 4 then, they in tern, keep anointing Peter, over, and over, and over again. If that isn’t a racket, a shell game…what do you call it? I call it time for Term Limits. You serve a term, or two -just like the president… then thank you , and buh-bye!

Protection of the environment and protecting our human rights guaranteed under the constitution  ought not be at odds with each other, they support each other, and need each other to survive. Douglas has cunningly put them at odds and uses it to wage class warfare.

-Richard Oshen, Filmmaker

People are inseparable from the land…although the Triple C is trying real hard.

Billion Dollar fires that need not be.

Americans have the constitutional right to own property, Mr. Douglas. ALL their property…and to be secure on that property.

Property Rights is not a privilege like a drivers license - it is an inalienable right.

Mr. Douglas, it seems, does not like the idea of we the people owning land at all, yet he owns land…and a house.

Property and property rights are what separates free men from serfs and indentured servants.

Take away the right to own land and be secure on it and people can never be secure.

Once upon a time, thirty plus years ago, it sounded like a good idea to isolate the CCC from the politics of politics.The point is, over time, that seemingly “good idea” to isolate a regulatory commission from our democratic electoral process contributed mightily to its corruption and, along the way, made it subservient to its political patrons - not the people of the state of California.

-Richard Oshen, Filmmaker

Combining all three branches of government into one entity for “expediency” is a Kangaroo court. It is what the coastal commission has become: writer of its own laws, enforcer of the laws they write, judge, jury, and executioner. That is not America.

Who protects the people?

Not the government of California - and certainly not the attorney general of the state.

The attorney general is litigating the people on behalf of the Triple C to the tune of upwards of $ 2 billion dollars per year. They are using our own money to fight us.

Where are the CCC’s checks and balances? The answer, sadly, for all of us is…there are none.

A dysfunctional coastal commission handsomely benefited the big picture plan of certain self-interest Non Governmental Oragnizations to such a degree it appears the CCC is their de facto enforcer - the legal muscle in the service of the elite ones who secretly contribute to them - not the people of California.

Tom Hayden tried to break up this little PONZI SCHEME back in1988, but it was soundly defeated by the same elitist interests that still pull the CCC’s strings today.

Last year Senator Denise Ducheney introduced a bill that would prohibit the commission from appealing itself. Which to this writer, sounds like a very normal thing to do - to prevent a commission from appealing itself  It too was squashed by these same NGOs and their elite supporters.

Where is the legislative oversight?

There is much more to it….the politics of fire…the devaluation of property,  destruction of the family farm, more open space than we can afford, the destruction of infrastructure from lack of property taxes, people living in fear of retribution if they speak out. The CCC is not the STASI.

When the governor of our state tell us education must be sacrificed because there is no money left, and you cast your eyes up to dark billowing clouds of smoke, and expensive leased aircraft zooming overhead, when a fleet of weed-wackers could have prevented all or most of it - you begin to see the huge scope of the disaster by these Pirates of California.

The tyranny by small imperceptible changes that has been obscured for the last 30+ years comes into focus and once seemingly isolated dots connect.

-Richard Oshen, filmmaker

Yes, well past time for Mr Douglas to go - but to go not because someone is anti this, and someone else is pro that, but because no one is above the law.

It is time we, the people of California get down to the business of determining the Coastal Commission’s next chapter post  Douglas and whether we repair or replace the California Coastal Commission.

It is time for a change in California.Time to breathe fresh air into a stale decadent demagoguery.

General Motors held on to their self righteous beliefs to the very end. We cannot afford to.

The future of California hangs in the balance.

SINS OF COMMISSION needs your help. A work print of the film and “other” material is being subpoenaed by the California Coastal Commission. I believe this is an egregious violation of our 1st Amendment Rights.

If you’ve ever considered making a donation to help the film finish or want to defend freedom of speech, now is the time. All donations made through our fiscal sponsor, The International Documentary Association, a 501 c3 non profit, are tax deductible.

Please click the link on the navigation bar, or you may send a check by mail:

The International Documentary Association
1201 West 5th Street, Suite M270
Los Angeles, CA  90017

attention: Fiscal Sponsorship

Please mark your check “for the account of Sins of Commission”

Thank you.

California Coastal Commission - paganism, politics, and proportionality

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend 2009 -California, USA

proportionality

pro·por·tion·al (prə-pôr’shə-nəl, )

  1. Forming a relationship with other parts or quantities; being in proportion.
  2. Properly related in size, degree, or other measurable characteristics; corresponding: Punishment ought to be proportional to the crime.
  3. Mathematics. Having the same or a constant ratio.

n.

One of the quantities in a mathematical proportion.

proportionality pro·portion·al’i·ty (-shə-nălĭ-tē) n.
proportionally pro·por’tion·al·ly adv.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Proportional Rights

Proportional Rights are responsibilities. In regards to the California Coastal Commission’s regulatory focus, many along the coast who have been and continue to be bearing the brunt of state supported tyranny think there needs to be remodeling of the system from top to bottom, yet that most vital and necessary of constitutional discourses, an open, free, debate seems to be missing.  If it is supposed to take place at a California Coastal Commission meeting… fuggedaboutit.

I describe myself as a Radical Pagan Heretic

-Peter Douglas, Executive Director, California Coastal Commission

The California Coastal Commission is being led by a self-proclaimed pagan and I want to find out what the heck he is talking about.  But before I proceed, let me be clear that this article is not a discussion about anyone’s right to hold any religious beliefs,  and the freedom to practice those beliefs.  Mr. Douglas put it out there - so lets find out, shall we?

Radical Paganism

Since the later 20th century, “Pagan” or “Paganism” has become widely used as a self-designation by adherents of  Neopaganism  

Neo-Pagan religious movements are extremely diverse, with beliefs that range widely from polytheism [ many deities] to animism, [it is generally accepted that "animism" refers to the belief that non-human entities,... plants, as well as inanimate (spiritless) objects such as rocks, can have souls.

( Source: Wikipedia)

Rocks may have souls but they don't vote, at least on this planet, at this time - or at least not legally.  So, if it comes down to a rock being safe and secure on their land ...or people being safe on theirs...call me crazy...but I'm going to stand with the people...and you can quote me on that.

Viewing the leader of the California Coastal Commission, through the prism of paganism, one can begin to see why people, especially people with families are held in such low regard and how fire may play a role in shaping more than the environment in California.

In one fell swoop, we can understand how an omnipotent organization, (all three branches combined is in essence omnipotent) lead by an unelected person with an very different from mainstream American, philosophical beliefs, could have created a system out of proportion with human rights.

This is  why our founding fathers believed it was important we Americans elect, not appoint our leaders...so we can vet important things like this that may be contrary to the good of the people.

A coastal act is a good thing. California's coastal act is not, and needs serious repair. First thing that comes to mind is good old-fashioned term limits for a certain coastal czar.  One can easily see, how this ideological demigod - lets face it, who else has been in power for over 30 years...IN AMERICA, can pervert the best of intentions to possibly fit an ideological/religious agenda.

Socialism Ascendant

Arguably, socialism is ascendant in America, on the march from coast to coast with the ever-elusive ideology of “the greater good” (an amorphous buzz-word  akin to "silent majority") in tow, as its calling card to jackboot an individual’s rights.  Not every aspect of Socialism is beneficent. I am an individual and bristle at the notion of collectivism.

Wetlands or wet land?

In this context, it is easy to see how a rut or a pot hole filled with water arms the California Coastal Commission with the means to establish a full blown wetland for the purpose of enacting a taking of private property, and sheds light on how they bend and twist our language to serve the task.

The California Coastal Commission’s definition of development is like nothing remotely humanely reasonable. It is so twisted, that even walking across your own land, according to Mr. Douglas, is now construed as development.

I consider myself a tolerant person. Douglas in word and deed is not.  Perhaps this explains how the DIS-proportionality of punishment meted out against people became so cruel?   I’d invite you to see the movie at a film festival and decide for yourself, but the film is being BANNED - or at any rate politically blocked.  Did you know not one California Film festival including San Francisco and Los Angeles will screen SINS OF COMMISSION?  What is everyone afraid of finding out?

Proportionality is not a new concept. They had proportionality in land dealings. Specifically as to those inherent responsibilities and to those assigned by laws like the Assize of Arms in 1181.

Wetlands or wet land?

When you look at the Coastal Commissions fines they are the same for corporation s and individuals. To corps they are water off a ducks back… to people, multiple thousands of dollars per day fines are weapons of mass destruction – because there is no proportion as to form or capacity.

But that is their plan. Bankrupt the people. Pick up their land for pennies on the dollar. AND It is succeeding in California.

Doesn’t it make sense, if you are an American with a sense of fairness from either party, that it is high time we restore the California Coastal Commission to the same civilized standard we use in the rest of our democratic society?

Out with the notion of an autocratic leader, restore the CCC to the norms of a humanistic democratic electoral system, and restructure the current dysfunctional system from the top down.

People deserve better.

Now it is easy to see how the California Coastal Commission’s rhetoric of “freeing” land for the people – is anything but freeing…and nothing good for the people. Yet, not surprisingly, California courts side with the commission most of the time.

Why?

Even if you don’t live in California, what happens here is going to set a set precedent for you. Courts love precedent.

On this day when we remember the brave who gave up their lives to defend our country from fascism, say a prayers for California firefigthers and first responders as fire season shifts into gear.

Its time to stand up and protect our rights for us today, and for future generations.

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government : of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address - Thursday, November 19, 1863

We need your help to finish and distribute SINS OF COMMISSION. Consider making a Memorial Day donation.

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And yes, a limited but rapidly dwindling supply, of hot SINS OF COMMISSION hats are still available.

Go to the Sins of Commission store and buy yours now…while supplies last.

California Coastal Commission - Burns them out again

Friday, May 8th, 2009

They have to burn, they will burn,” said Coast Commission spokeswoman Sarah Christie.

State rules protecting maritime chaparral place homeowner’s lives at risk

California Families who have long bristled at the immense authority of the California Coastal Commission, contend that state rules protecting maritime chaparral have placed homeowners at risk and exacerbated the fire danger.

Although the commission flatly rejects that assertion, ( of course they would)  SINS OF COMMISSION thinks not- as this 2008 interview reveals -

Chaparral thrives up and down the coast- from Southern California up to Mendocino County-and is what the fire department calls fuel beds for fires.

Problem is maritime chaparral is designated by California Coastal Commission as “environmentally sensitive habitat” and protected by law,theoretically because “it is susceptible to disturbance or degradation by human activities” -  but the State Fire Marshal is responsible for the public’s safety.

Who is in charge? The California Coastal Commission…. or the state Fire Marshal?

Did the California Coastal Commission say endangered? Sensitive? Susceptible to disturbance? we think not.

It is estimated the so called “sensitive” shrub blankets 1.3 million acres across the state, or more. Others, including an expert from the [California] State Department of Fish and Game and those who have analyzed the issue for the Coastal Commission - meaning paid to say, believe it is closer to 20,000 acres but that it may appear far more widespread because other varieties of plants are mixed in.

Whatever the acreage, California Coastal Families say the commission’s chaparral-protection rule blocks them from taking even basic precautions against wildfires, such as cutting a defensive perimeter around their homes, or from remodeling or expanding structures on their property.

( Source: Capitol Weekly)

The statement means that “people will have their land effectively condemned based upon the personal opinion of one person, the expert the county or commission requires them to hire to do a biological assessment of their property as part of the permit process.

The commission emphatically denies that its regulations contribute to the fire danger, and notes that the state generally defers to local fire agencies in emergencies on questions of local property protection. But many homeowners who were forced to evacuate and huddle with neighbors aren’t buying that at all: The chaparral, they believe, contributed to the lightning-sparked Big Sur fires, which …destroyed 20 homes and charred at least 72,000 acres.

The central message here for us is that the maritime chaparral, like the San Diego coast sage shrub, are not just fire-prone, they are fire-dependent. They have evolved over a millennium to require fire to regenerate. They have to burn, they will burn,” said Coast Commission spokeswoman Sarah Christie.

( Source: Capitol Weekly)

SINS OF COMMISSION vehemently disagrees, and firefighters like Mr. Franklin concur.

Are you burnt out from all of these fires? And the season is just beginning.

Tired of spending billions of YOUR dollars to fight fires that shouldn’t be in the first place?

Help us get the film out to the people, the media and the legislators.

Donate now through our fiscal sponsors the International Documentary Association a 501 c3 non profit foundation and receive a tax deduction .

Save California.  Save the Coast.  Save your homes.

The California Coastal Commission - Unrepentant Sinners

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

The Unrepentant Sins Of The California Coastal Commission
by Ronald A. Zumbrun
Thursday, 12 February 2009

What do the former mayors of Malibu and San Diego, a former member of the California Coastal Commission, and a former captain of the County of Los Angeles Fire Department have in common? In a soon-to-be released documentary film entitled “Sins of Commission”, these former public servants, along with several other aggrieved property owners, describe in painful detail the transformation of the California Coastal Commission as a protector of the environment into a radical bureaucratic monster.

Those who view the Coastal Commission as integral to the battle to protect the coast from “big developers” will be surprised to learn that it typically chooses to pursue fines against individual property owners who lack the resources to fight back.

Consider the plight of Kathleen Kenny, who was fined by the Coastal Commission for building a 742 square-foot cottage on an existing, developed pad in Topanga Canyon, California.

Not coincidentally, the California Attorney General’s Office, which represents the Coastal Commission, imposed the fines and served a lawsuit against Ms. Kenny the same day that a County of Los Angeles building inspector and two sheriff’s deputies showed up at her front door with a search warrant. The building inspector, Grant Lawseth, was miffed when Ms. Kenny published an 8-page newsletter to 3,000 Topanga Canyon residents accusing him of seeking bribes in exchange for Building Department approval.

In an amazing turn of events, a federal jury in 1997 found that Mr. Lawseth had engaged in a continued practice of racketeering and awarded damages to Ms. Kenny under the Federal Racketeering and Corrupt Organization statutes.

Despite Ms. Kenny’s recent death and the astonishing jury verdict, the Coastal Commission’s fine is still on the books against her partner, Arthur Starz, which now exceeds over $2 million.

Sadly, the practice of government extortion of private property owners is not unique to Ms. Kenny. Shortly after the Legislature designated the Coastal Commission as a permanent bureaucratic entity in 1976, the Coastal Commission embarked on an expressed policy of forcing private property owners to relinquish portions of their land to the state in exchange for a building permit––a tactic which the United States Supreme Court in 1987 labeled “an out-and-out plan of extortion” in Nollan v. California Coastal Commission.

Ignoring the high court’s rebuff, the Coastal Commission continues to engage in extortionist tactics. One of the Coastal Commission’s ongoing policy objectives is the creation of hiking trails throughout the Santa Monica Mountains. There is nothing wrong in principle with this policy objective. After all, the state can simply purchase these trails from private property owners, right? Wrong. Instead of paying for the trails, the Coastal Commission has in place the policy of requiring property owners to relinquish a portion of their land for trails in exchange for a building permit––a policy confirmed by Peter Douglas, the Executive Director of the Coastal Commission, in the above-mentioned documentary “Sins of Commission.”

In Nollan v. California Coastal Commission, the Supreme Court held that there must be damage caused by the permit seeker and a nexus or connection to the exaction. Thus, if a home is to be placed on a public path, the permit seeker can be required to dedicate a comparable path to the public. In Dolan v. City of Tigard, the high court clarified the rule: there must be a rough proportionality between the harm to the public and the exaction imposed on the property owner.

The Coastal Commission’s policy willfully ignores a fundamental attribute of private property ownership: the right to exclude others. The Supreme Court has characterized this right as “one of the most essential sticks in the bundle of rights that are commonly characterized as property.” The Coastal Commission deprives property owners of this “essential stick in the bundle of rights” by its extortionist land dedication requirements.

Indeed, the Coastal Commission has even attempted to deprive a property owner of the right to place a “no trespassing” sign on his property, contending that placement of the sign is unpermitted “development.” Thankfully, the California Court of Appeal in LT-WR, L.L.C. v. California Coastal Commission restored sanity and confirmed that Californians still have the right to place “no trespassing” signs on their own property and do not need a permit from the Coastal Commission to do so, notwithstanding the Coastal Commission’s contention that this could potentially interfere with public prescriptive rights. It is disconcerting, to say the least, that the Coastal Commission, backed by tax dollars and the Attorney General’s Office, would take such a position in a court of law in the first place.

Consider also the Coastal Commission’s decision to label chaparral vegetation in the Santa Monica Mountains to be an environmentally sensitive habitat area (ESHA)––a decision without legislative oversight and based solely on the opinion of one so-called “expert” handpicked by the Coastal Commission. This label drastically curtails a property owner’s ability to productively use private property. Even a self-sustaining organic garden would be a prohibited use without a permit. Most of the land in the Santa Monica Mountains contains chaparral. Unfortunately, chaparral also is a primary source of fuel for fires. The ESHA designation precludes fire departments and local governmental entities from adopting their own fire protection measures and prevents private property owners from clearing brush as a buffer in the event of fire. Chaparral has been a major contributor to the recent fires which have plagued the state. Local residents and their governments must now live with a high risk of fires.

And then there is the ongoing plight of Dan Norris and Peggy Gilder, who purchased raw land in Topanga Canyon––not to live on, but to organically garden and hike with their children. The land came with an old, preexisting road, which over time had become obstructed with debris, rocks, and foliage. It never occurred to Norris and Gilder that the Coastal Commission would require a permit to clear a preexisting road to ensure access to private property. After receiving a notice of violation from the Coastal Commission for unpermitted “development” in an ESHA, the Coastal Commission arranged for an inspection of the property. Norris and Gilder wanted to film the inspection to protect their rights, but the Coastal Commission objected to being filmed. Without notice to Norris and Gilder and their legal counsel, the Coastal Commission then sought a civil inspection warrant from a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge to allow the inspection to occur without filming and to allow forcible entry onto the property. Sensing the constitutional implication of precluding a private property owner from filming a government inspection on private property, the judge requested briefing on the issue. Rather than run the risk of an adverse ruling, the Coastal Commission withdrew its request for the warrant.

The California Legislature bears much of the responsibility for the Coastal Commission’s flagrant abuses of power. It created an entity that acts as a legislator (as in the ESHA definition), adjudicator (it hears appeals brought by aggrieved property owners), and executive administrator (imposing fines). The English historian Lord Acton famously remarked that “absolute power corrupts absolutely,” and the Coastal Commission is a prime example. The Coastal Commission’s treatment of Ms. Kenny and numerous others has nothing to do with environmentalism, and everything to do with selective intimidation and violation of basic civil liberties.

Backed by the power of the state’s v’s Office, what chance do private property owners in California have of fighting back? Very little. The vast majority of private property owners are just like Ms. Kenny, who desire only a residence to live in and do not have the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to pay for attorneys to battle the state. In short, only the people through their legislative representatives can make the changes necessary to restore both environmental protection and freedom of property ownership in California.

In the documentary film, Peter Douglas takes delight in describing himself as a “radical pagan heretic” and characterizes property owners who assert their constitutional rights in court as “jihadists.” It is submitted that no one, radical pagan or otherwise, should be acting as judge, jury and executioner over the people of California.

*Ronald A. Zumbrun is Managing Attorney of The Zumbrun Law Firm, a Sacramento-based public issues firm. Timothy V. Kassouni, Legal Director with the firm, substantially assisted in the preparation of this column and also is lead counsel for Dan Norris and Peggy Gilder. You can learn more about The Zumbrun Law Firm at http://www.zumbrunlaw.com/. “Sins of Commission” is produced by Richard Oshen of Pacific Coast Highway Productions. See http://www.sinsofcommission.com/ for more information.

Of Mice and Men

Monday, March 16th, 2009


I seen hundreds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an’ that same damn thing in their heads . . . every damn one of ‘em’s got a little piece of land in his head. An’ never a God damn one of ‘em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’.

I read plenty of books out here.

Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land.

 

 

- John Steinbek, “Of Mice and Men”

 

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger started a campaign last Thursday to drum up voter support for a series of budget-related propositions he wants to pass in May.

Schwarzenegger also threw his support behind efforts to hold a constitutional convention, an idea which is showing some signs of support around California. The Bay Area Council, a business-backed policy group headquartered in San Francisco, is spearheading efforts to hold a convention to redo parts of the state’s basic framework.

“I think eventually the state of California needs to look at a constitutional convention,” Schwarzenegger said during a question-and-answer session following his speech. “There’s things that ought to be looked at and debated.”

The governor did not specify which areas of the state constitution were most in need of change.

(Source: San Francisco Business Times)

Don’t know about you, but I get very concerned when any govenor decides he “needs to look at a constitutional convention,” especially when a self-interest group of any stripe is leading the charge… because you know who gets clobbered in the end - WE do!

Tinkering is what you do with a clock or a motor….a radio, guitar, maybe even a computer - not a constitution!  

But I do agree with the govenor’s observation - something is rotten in the state of California.

Michael Chrichton, of Jurassic Park fame, gave a speech at the Commonwealth Club of California in 2003 - the same place the govenor gave his last week.

Mr. Chrichton brought up many worthy points then, that ring true for our time.

We must daily decide whether the threats we face are real, whether the solutions we are offered will do any good, whether the problems we’re told exist are in fact real problems, or non-problems.

-Michael Crichton 

We don’t have to tinker with anything constitutional in order to take a good hard look at what is working - and what is not.  It’s kinda easy given this last budget fiasco…I don’t think there’s a whole lot of things working in the State of California.

Amendments aren’t necessary to get the Coastal Commission to work better.  For the last 30 years, the Triple-C has been the state’s poster boy for unfettered government run amok. We need to stop that. This is no time for anything in California to be running amok.

Could Peter Douglas, Executive-Director-for-life of the California Coastal Commission be using the commission to advance his personal agenda or is he just the towel-boy for some very wealthy people and some powerful corporations…yes, wealthy people and powerful corporations. (501 c3 Non-profits are corporations.) 

Whose agenda is Pete and the boys really advancing under the guise of environmental protection? Non-for-profit and for profit corporations might be dropping millions of dollars on the Triple C and we’d never know who they are because it is a secret.  They don’t have to tell. By law. California law.

The same law that allows the commission to initiate an appeal of a coastal development permit with the action of any two members of the commission. California State Sen. Denise Ducheny, of San Diego, introduced Senate Bill 1295 Februray 19, 2008 to try and restore fairness to the commission.

It just doesn’t seem right that the people who make the appeal also decide the appeal,”

-Sen. Denise Ducheny

(Source:  North County Times, March 13, 2008)

Predictably, SB 1295 was defeated.

How come the names of all individuals and corporations who contribute to the CCC are not public information?  I’d sure like to know who is pulling their strings, and the public ought to know too. Everyone who makes a contribution for federal political means are reported on the web. Why not here too? 

OK, mistakes happen. BUT, let’s look real carefully at the money flow into the commission and the data that comes out.  The commission uses this data, however it wants to and for whatever purpose it dreams up - and refuses to acknowledge anything contrary to its’ own findings. 

If the data is manipulated who whould know? And what ever they present in court…the courts back them up…so truthful and accurate data is critical for all parties, not just to be used as a means to an end.

 

Where does the data come from? Their own sources - or - Independent, outside experts? Where is the oath that accompanies the data that they submit that says the information is deemed correct under penalty of perjury?  Those three words alone are gonna clean up some stuff PDQ because now the so-called experts will be legally bound to tell the truth. 

And, while we’re on the subject of truth, who protects the people from the meglo-maniacal commission? No, not the A.G. The Attorney General is too busy covering the CCC’s butt. Who is watching out for Jane & John Q. Public to be sure their rights are protected?

I want it perfectly clear that I believe it is incumbent on us to conduct our lives in a way that takes into account all the consequences of our actions, including the consequences to other people, and the consequences to the environment.  

-Michael Crichton 

How much of the state’s budget does the CCC spend on lawsuits in a year?  In a decade? Over 3 decades?

I bet that number equals the cost of one if not more of these super-duper-tankers we (the people)  lease each year to drop tons of retardant on flaming brush as a result of the coastal commission’s (and other agencies) prohibition from allowing modification of the vegetation?

Once it dawns on folks that if we modify the vegetation, fires won’t be as gigantic, do you think they’ll be pissed?

How many billions did last years fire’s cost? What % of budget was that? I’m not saying get a lawnmower - but I am suggesting we need to do something - RIGHT NOW!

In 90 to 120 days from right now fire season starts.

What new techniques are in place since the last round of catastrophic fires, that cost the state billions of dollars, and helped drive us into the financial toilet?    

Speaking of toilets… 

I heard there is a movement in the Santa Monica Mountains to allow overnight camping in a zone the fire department calls “extremely hazardous”.  Bad idea, no?

I thought we are trying to prevent fires…not start them. They have a lot of money behind them…they’ll probably get their way. Burn the people out who live there, huh?

While we’re doing our fact-finding, let’s not miss an opportunity to look at the California Conservancy and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

The reason I ask is back in 2004, there was a big brouhaha…do you remember?

The Office of State Audits and Evaluations, which examined the conservancy’s spending through June 2003, accused the conservancy of applying $4.2 million in bond money toward planning, education and facilities renovations instead of using it for parkland purchases. The conservancy charged for operating expenses such as phones, cellular phones, Internet service, access pagers, postage, conferences, vehicle costs and other items as direct grant expenses); and using more than $1 million in bond money to pay for legal fees. The audit questioned possible double billing as well.

According to a written response to the audit from Michael Berger, chairman of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, the conservancy’s land-management arm, “(The MRCA governing board) recognizes that constant improvement is essential to being an effective and responsive instrument for the people we serve.

(Source: The Acorn)

How they doing? Any better?

We honestly appreciate the efforts of the Office of State Audits and Evaluations, and where they have been constructive in their criticisms, such recommendations have—in conjunction with our own internal review—led to the changes in organizational structure and procedures.

(Source: The Acorn)

Honestly appreciate?  The state audit also criticized the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy for its relationship with the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority…. That was no compliment.

How is that going?

There’s the appearance that the conservancy is, in effect, awarding grants to itself, and that the authority’s project managers are monitoring themselves.

(Source: The Acorn)

Perhaps, at the same time we can also look into why previous attempts to restore balance into the CCC have fallen flat? I don’t bet, but if I did, I’d say that it probably has something to do with PAC money.

Why, why, why? So many whys.

In his later years, Mr. Crichton turned his attention towards public policy and became extremely skeptical of archly ideological environmentalism. In the speech he delivered at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club in 2003, he argued that environmentalism is essentially a religion, a belief system based on faith, not fact. (Check out his site: http://www.crichton-official.com/speech-environmentalismaseligion.html)

Is the environmental debate today, including global warming, and other issues, based on science or politics?  Are government policies wasting limited resources, crippling human rights and addressing true dangers - or inviting tyranny?

“The lawyers made a very strong point,” [Joe] Edmiston said, and you don’t need a lawyer to point this out—we don’t wake up in the morning, throw a dart at the map of the Santa Monica Mountains and say, ‘Okay, where the dart landed, that’s the property that we’re going to try and acquire.’ There’s a full planning process that goes into that.” 

(Source: The Acorn)

Planning, I bet there is…. 

 



 
 
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