By Warner Chabot | Published 2013/11/14
Ever wonder why the California coast doesn’t look like Miami Beach or Atlantic City? There’s a good reason our beautiful coastline is the iconic image of California. Quite simply it’s because Californians love the coast. They demand that our leaders protect this natural legacy.
Forty years ago Californians made history. They rebelled to save the coast. They saw developers propose massive developments that trashed the coast and blocked public access to the beach. They were outraged by corporate lobbyists who ruled over our elected leaders in Sacramento and who blocked every law to protect the coast from rampant development.
So the people rebelled. They asked Peter Douglas, a young, idealistic legislative staffer to draft a law to protect the coast. Then they bypassed the lobbyists and Sacramento. They put the Coastal Initiative on the statewide ballot. The Initiative passed. The people and the California coast won and the lobbyists lost.
The Initiative created a twelve member California Coastal Commission. The law directed the Governor, Assembly, and Senate each to appoint four Commissioners as stewards of our coastal heritage. And for forty years, the Coastal Commission has effectively served as California’s coastal steward.
Our state has a world-wide reputation for progressive and sustainable coastal planning and conservation. We have managed development while preserving natural treasures, coastal vistas and thriving agriculture. We have maintained the public’s right of access to the beach. The Commission played a key role in saving our coastal waters from offshore oil drilling.
Fast forward to today. We have a virtually new Commission. Many of our state legislators are freshmen. Our coast has new issues and challenges, like climate change and sea level rise. There is only one constant: Developers and lobbyists!
If we want our coast protected, then we must keep a transparent and accountable spotlight on these twelve commissioners and our elected leaders who appoint them. The lobbyists and developers are at the Commission every month. It’s time for the next generation of coast lovers to step up to the plate.