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California Coastal Commission - Time for Change - Part 1

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

Something happening here…what it is ain’t exactly clear…

-Crosby, Stills and Nash

Current California lobbyist registration laws exempt lobbyists who try to sway the California Coastal Commission’s land-use decisions.

Don’t the people deserve to know who is influencing the California Coastal Commission? 

HISTORY

The California Coast is the symbol of our state and personifies the bond WE, the people, have with our land and all nature.  Arguably, it is our most precious natural asset and touches the lives of millions of Californians and people from around the world.

It’s good for the soul. Its a place to recreate, relax, and still a great source of fresh air. It’s not only good for us, but the coast is home to all kinds of fish, birds, mammals, and a wide range of plants. The coast also drives our economy. Coastal visitors bring more than $2 billion a year to Los Angeles County.¹

Three decades ago, oil spills blackened California’s beaches. Uncontrolled development threatened public access to the coast. California voters acted to protect the coast to show the world our commitment to be good stewards of our coastal resources for future generations of Californians and all people everywhere. 

It seemed like a good idea back then to create the California Coastal Commission, a government entity that would protect the coast. It also seemed like a good idea to protect that group from the politics of politics by isolating it from the electoral process.

Only one of these concepts is still a good idea…can you guess which one?

Coastal California Today 

The health of the coast is at risk. Runoff and sewage degrades the water, harms marine ecosystems and closes the beaches the California Coastal Commission is supposed to protect.  

By what rights does the California Coastal Commission have the power to determine whether a house can be seen from a trail, or the open sea, or what color it is, or if people can plant a rose bush, when the coast - the natural resource they’ve actually been mandated to protect, isn’t doing so well? Isn’t that akin to rearranging the deck furniture on the Titanic? 

All Californians know beach access is important. The coastal commission likes to puff up its chest, pat itself on the back, and point to beach access or Beach Clean Up Day (a very good thing) with pride. But doesn’t it seem a little bit deceitful because what good is beach access or a clean beach if the water is too polluted to swim in?

Santa Monica Bay beaches exceed newly adopted bacteria standards. The beach at Santa Monica Pier was by far the most polluted in Santa Monica Bay and was the second most polluted beach in California this summer.²

Los Angeles County beaches received the lowest marks in the state, with nearly one in five beaches receiving F grades. Malibu’s famed Surfrider received a D. Long Beach had the most polluted beaches, according to the report. Nearly half its 25 monitored beaches received C to F. ¹

FOLLOW THE MONEY

TOM HAYDEN tried to reform the California Coastal Commission. Way back in 1988 he smelled a skunk. He authored AB 4122 in an attempt to prohibit Coastal Commission members from engaging in political fund-raising activities. It was defeated. (probably with money from the same organizations he was trying to save us from.)

Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed requiring that lobbyists’ private (ex parte) communications with members of the Coastal Commission be fully disclosed and posted on the Internet. Why? If federal election campaign contributions are public, why not California Coastal Commission lobbist contributions?

California State Sen. Denise Ducheny of San Diego introduced Senate Bill 1295 Februray 19, 2008. Currently, the California Coastal Act allows the commission to initiate an appeal of a coastal development permit with the action of any two members of 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 also defeated.

The California coast is way too important to be left to the whims of political appointees who are beholding to their patron and easily swayed by the green cash lobbyists so readily throw.

Feeling burnt? Help us get the message out.

Donate now through the International Documentary Association, our fiscal sponsor.

Footnotes:

1 http://articles.latimes.com/2008/sep/26/local/me-beaches26

2 http://www.healthebay.org/assets/pdfdocs/brc/summer/2007/report_print.pdf



 
 
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