Skip to comments.CA: Bitter battle splits coastal commission
Posted on 12/12/2002 8:53:20 AM PST by NormsRevengeEdited on 04/13/2004 3:30:03 AM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]
The chairwoman of the California Coastal Commission pulled out of a bitter political fight for leadership of the panel Wednesday, saying Gov. Gray Davis had worked for her ouster in favor of members who are more friendly to coastal development.
(Excerpt) Read more at bayarea.com ...
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The California Coastal Commission deadlocked Wednesday on a vote to elect a new leader, stalling a decision that some fear could tilt the powerful panel away from coastal protection.
After Chairwoman Sara Wan, a favorite of environmentalists, pulled her name from consideration, the 12 commission members split their votes evenly between colleagues Dave Potter and Mike Reilly.
That means Wan will remain chairwoman until another vote can be held at January's meeting.
``For another month, coastal protection will continue to be subverted by politics,'' said Mark Massara, director of the Sierra Club's coastal protection program.
Wan's decision left Potter, a contractor and Monterey County supervisor, and longtime Commissioner Mike Reilly, a Sonoma County supervisor, bidding for the influential post.
Potter, the current vice chairman, was the leading candidate to replace Wan. Environmentalists say he has received contributions and loans from developers in the past and point to work he has done as a contractor for the Pebble Beach Co., which needs Coastal Commission approval for a golf resort on the Monterey Peninsula.
Potter has called his work for Pebble Beach ``inconsequential'' and said he is not swayed by developers who come before the commission.
Massara said the panel needs strong leadership as it faces cuts prompted by the state's massive budget deficit. The commission's $11 million annual budget was cut by $1 million this year. Like other state agencies, it faces a hiring freeze.
Environmentalists say the panel's nine-member enforcement staff is already woefully small. The staff reviews whether developers are following the state's coastal protection laws and ensures public access to the coast.
A number of key issues could come before the commission in 2003, including the Pebble Beach proposal, backed by actor Clint Eastwood, a massive housing and retail development on wetlands in Los Angeles, and a major mixed-use project along Half Moon Bay.
The election of a leader is the latest tempest for the commission that oversees some of the nation's most prized real estate. It rules on proposals ranging from seaside golf resorts to celebrities' requests to expand their villas. It also has say over near-shore oil drilling off the California coast.
Wan said she withdrew because the election has divided the commission.
``To remove the political and personal issues, I will not allow my name to be nominated for chair,'' she said before calling for other nominations.
Commissioner William Burke said Potter is committed to protecting coastal resources and would be an effective leader.
``It's a matter of process,'' Burke said. ``Potter has been vice chair, now he should be the chair.''
Commissioner Cynthia McClain-Hill called the leadership debate overblown.
``It's always very difficult balancing coastal protection and the rights of individual property owners,'' McClain-Hill said.
On the Net:
California Coastal Commission: http://www.coastal.ca.gov/web/
Commissioners said new information that the project's scenic hills were also home to the endangered red-legged frog, the state-protected white-tailed Kite, monarch butterflies, and endangered tidewater gobies made it impossible for them to approve the project's design.
The course, proposed for just west of Goleta, had been in the works for more than a decade.
Environmentalists hailed the decision.
"Sierra Club is ecstatic over the commission's action," said Mark Massara, director of the organization's Coastal Program.
Calls to representatives of Makar Properties, which proposed Dos Pueblos Golf Links, were not immediately returned.
Massara said he hoped the vote signaled a new course for the beleaguered commission, which has been severely divided in recent months over selection of a new leader.
The commission deadlocked 6-6 Wednesday in an effort to elect a new chairman after Sara Wan said she would not seek reappointment.
Dos Pueblos Golf was to feature an 18-hole course, a 9-hole practice course and a clubhouse. It was designed by former Masters champion Ben Crenshaw.
The commission had tried to work with developers to alter the design to protect the animal habitats, but the two sides were unable to agree.
The $20 billion would build four aircraft carriers. They will need all sources of money to cover the deficit.