Oceanfront cities like Florida’s Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale are lined with high-rise condos and resorts, so why isn’t California’s coast covered in buildings as well? The California Coastal Commission protects against just that.
In the early seventies, California citizens adopted the California Coastal Act with the specific purpose of protecting California’s most precious resource, its coastline. Each time development forces have tried to amend the Coastal Act, California voters have consistently voted to keep the act strong for coastal protection and to prevent massive development.
What is the California Coastal Commission?
The Coastal Act created the California Coastal Commission, one of the most powerful of all state agencies. Not only does the Coastal Commission have both legislative and enforcement authorities, but also no individual politician can control it — not even the governor. Every governor since the Commission was established has tried to either control or destroy it. They are frustrated that they cannot pay back their deep-pocketed contributors with automatic approvals for development projects from the Coastal Commission.
Leveling the Playing Field
The Coastal Commission ensures a level playing field so that communities, neighbors and conservation organizations can fight huge money and campaign contributions. The Coastal Commission is immune from much of the pressures coming from politicians who have political debts to pay. For example, an underfunded opposition to a massive development project has as much clout as big developers.
California’s governor has four appointees on the Coastal Commission in an attempt to gain control – a power play that many before him have tried. Unfortunately, the Commission’s Executive Director, Dr. Charles Lester, is threatened with termination at the next Coastal Commission meeting in February. Citizens who care about our coastline have always come to the rescue with overwhelming support for the Commission’s leadership. Once again, we must demonstrate our support for the Coastal Commission and the need to protect our coastline from big development.
The Poseidon Conspiracy
It is no coincidence that private water developer, Poseidon, has a proposed $1 billion desalination plant approval that goes before the Coastal Commission later this year. Poseidon stands to make billions of dollars in profit over the 50-year life of the project. In November 2013, the Commission denied Poseidon’s proposal to build the plant, but Poseidon could ensure approval through a conspiracy to change the Commission’s leadership. Poseidon has spent over $50 million to get the approvals for their plant. As they see it, they are in the home stretch.
Protect California’s Coast
It’s up to us. You can show your support of the Coastal Commision and its current leader, Dr. Lester by attending the Coastal Commision meeting in Moro Bay on February 10. It’s time to let California’s government know that we won’t let our coastline fall victim to corporate greed.