Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Governor MIA on the Coastal Commission fight

Rich Pedroncelli, Associated Press

Good editorial on the Coastal Commission in today's Chronicle:

A four-member faction, who all serve at the will of Gov. Jerry Brown, are behind a bid to fire [Charles]Lester on grounds of weak management and unresponsiveness. To that can be added a firm backbone when it comes to controlling building along the coast of a boom-time state. Lester’s future — and the commission’s power — are on the line.

Lester has issued a feisty 20-page memo defending his record and has pushed for a public hearing. His defenders are rallying, too, turning in over 14,000 letters of support. Ten congressional representatives and 33 former coastal commissioners are in his corner. Environmental groups are urging supporters to caravan to Morro Bay, even offering to pay $75 for gas.

The governor is holding off contacting his appointees, indicating that it’s a personnel matter for members to decide. But he should wake up to a bigger reality: California treasures its coast and wants it protected.

Jerry Brown is supposed to be a smart guy and an environmentalist, but there's evidence to the contrary. He supports the dumb high-speed rail project and joined the phony movement to "reform" CEQA after it got in the way of his development plans when he was Oakland's mayor. He's getting another black mark by not supporting Charles Lester. 

Lester's memo is mostly attachments documenting his record as Executive Director of the Coastal Commission since he was appointed in 2011, with only a few pages written in his clunky, bureaucratic prose. But the Coastal Commission was hiring an administrator, not a writer.

In an editorial last month, the Chronicle on what's at stake:

The possible dismissal comes at a heated moment. Before the commission is a plan for a 1,400-home development known as Banning Ranch. The acreage is considered one of largest remaining unbuilt spots along the Orange County coast.

Along with high-profile and well-financed projects, there’s a dose of history. In his first term, Brown signed regulations that put the public vote into practice. He was an active supporter in tune with the message of controlled development.

Now the times may have changed. He has direct control over four of the 12 voting commissioners and has ducked public comment on the agency’s future. He should stand up now and safeguard an institution he helped bring to life. Firing a director in the name of easing development shouldn’t be in California’s future.

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