Good Riddance to Peter Douglas


April 4, 2012

By John Seiler

The person who did the most to wreck California the past 25 years wasn’t one of our terrible governors, but Peter M. Douglas. After 25 years assaulting basic property rights and the U.S. and California constitutions as the head of the Stalinesque California Coastal Commission, he finally gave up his tyrannical ghost.

The commission really is Stalinesque. The essence of the Soviet Union was that government bureaucrats “owned” all property, divvying it up according to their whim.

That’s just what Douglas did. As the unelected and unaccountable director of the Coastal Commission, his extremist restrictions on property rights along the coast effectively shut down development there. As Econ. 101 tells you, reducing supply sharply drives up cost sharply. The restrictions forced coastal property to soar in value much higher than if development had been allowed to grow in a property rights arrangement.

In 1972, before the Coastal Commission was imposed by deluded voters, property just half a mile in from the coast cost about the same as similar property across the country in places like Kansas or Michigan. True, the plots were smaller than in Topeka or Lansing. But energy also was cheaper because the great weather precluded high heating or air conditioning bills.

Today, a simlar property half a mile in from the coast costs about three times as much as property in Kansas or Michigan. And even the energy cost advantage is gone because of California’s absurd environmental and regulatory laws.

Only McMansions

Along the coast now, matters are getting even worse. Extreme Coastal Commission regulations halt any normal suburban developments, allowing only McMansions worth at least $1.2 million a house. Basically, elitists like Douglas want the riff-raff kept away from their precious coast, so they can enjoy it for themselves.

This property squeeze radiates inland about 50 miles, raising home prices along the way. The middle-class family that once could afford to live half a mile from the coast, now must move inland five miles or so to afford even a modest shotgun hack. Whan that family does so, it displaces a lower-middle-class family that must move inland to Riverside County or Stockton. This forces a long commute, reducing family time and causing marital breakups. And with gas now well over $4 a gallon, the commute eats into family budgets, further causing marital and familial tensions.

Meanwhile, Douglas and the other elitists on the Commission enjoy the wealth and privileges of a commissar in Moscow c. 1935. Accoding to the Los Angeles Times:

“Douglas…had homes in the Marin County city of Larkspur and on the Smith River in the state’s northernmost Del Norte County….”

Somebody with more time than I have should check into how much his property values increased because of the restrictions the commission he headed placed on surrounding properties.

Court challenges

The Times article noted that Douglas and the commission survived numerous court challenges. Again, I’d like to see a study of the property ownership of the judges and justices who ruled in these cases. Did any of them own coastal property that zoomed in value because of the commission? Would ruling against the commission have crashed their property values?

The unelected commission was imposed 40 years ago, in 1972. Most of the voters who pressed the yea lever in the voting booth now are dead. Would they have voted 55-45 for Proposition 20, which instituted the commission, if they had know that it would make housing unaffordable for their children and grandchildren? No, they wouldn’t have.

This is part of the tyranny of seeming “democracy” that’s a masquerated for plutocracy. A duped electorate’s mistakes one year are almost impossible to repeal in subsequent elections.

Constitutional property rights

The commission also makes a mockery of the property rights guaranteed in the U.S. and California constitutions. The U.S. Constitution is clear. The Fourth Amendment guarantees:

“No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

But that’s just what happens when the Coastal Commission orders you to stop building something on your own property, even if it’s adding a washroom to your shack. People like Douglas “take” your property for a “public use” with no “just compensation” at all. Sure, technically, you have the “title” to the property, and pay the mortage on it. But you don’t really own it.

So, Douglas “takes” your property so it can give him a warm and fuzzy feeling inside (at least until recently) because he “saved” the coast. Meanwhile, his own property values rose, making him feel warmer and fuzzier.

Then there’s the Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees:

“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

But the Coastal Commission’s arbitrary and absurd property restrictions  severely “deprive” people of their “property, without due process of law.” And the commision denies people “the equal protection of the laws,” because those living along the coast suffer Stalinesque property restrictions not faced by other property owners in the state.

The California Constitution also guarantees, in Article I, Section I–right at the start:

“All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy. “

The Coastal Commissions commissar edicts obviouisly violate “acquiring, possessing, and protecting property.”

Of course, nobody cares about the California or U.S. constitutions anymore. They’re just play things for clever lawyers.

Douglas now has gone to his eternal reward, whatever that might be.

The rest of us are stuck here in the slave state he imposed.



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  1. Jeff Gallagher
    Jeff Gallagher 3 April, 2012, 23:01

    Shame on, John. Are you that jaded that you couldn’t wait his grave is cold to speak ill of the dead? We seldom completely agree on issues but I has respect for your positions on political issues. That has gone out the door. You deserve ZERO

    Reply this comment
  2. Jackie
    Jackie 4 April, 2012, 00:52

    I agree with Mr. Gallagher (above). This is completely unprofessional. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    Reply this comment
  3. Suzanne
    Suzanne 4 April, 2012, 06:31

    This is completely insensitive. The man hasnt even been dead 24 hours and you say “good riddance’? How crude and cold.

    Reply this comment
  4. Tom in SoCal
    Tom in SoCal 4 April, 2012, 08:27

    May the coastal commission rot in hell, along with those who support it.

    Reply this comment
  5. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 4 April, 2012, 10:04

    “Shame on, John. Are you that jaded that you couldn’t wait his grave is cold to speak ill of the dead?”

    Why should a man be given more respect dead than alive? Because that’s what your mom and dad told you?

    Grow up.

    Reply this comment
  6. Den in NorCal
    Den in NorCal 4 April, 2012, 10:29

    “Douglas has been the willing tool of a liberal Democrat majority that has dominated the actions of the Coastal Commission. As a result of his environmental and political bias in interpreting the Coastal Act and his total disregard for the rights of private property owners, Douglas and his staff of zealots have led the Coastal Commission into court with regularity.”
    ——-July 14, 1996 LA times

    I think John has set the record straight. A proper obituary for a man who profited greatly from his environmental actions, while restricting property rights of others. Do as I say, but not as I do.

    Reply this comment
  7. Stanley K.
    Stanley K. 4 April, 2012, 10:49

    Mr. Beelzebub: The problem with spitting on someone’s grave is that you don’t want to look more wrong than the person you are criticizing because by taking the attention off the wrongdoer and focusing it on yourself your criticisms will probably be dismissed even if they are correct.

    Reply this comment
  8. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 4 April, 2012, 11:12

    “Mr. Beelzebub: The problem with spitting on someone’s grave is that you don’t want to look more wrong than the person you are criticizing because by taking the attention off the wrongdoer and focusing it on yourself your criticisms will probably be dismissed even if they are correct”

    Would you have spat on Hitler’s grave? So what gives you the right to spit on one person’s grave and not anothers?

    Stop demanding everyone else abide by your high moral standards. If a man was disrespected alive – there is absolutely no reason to respect him when he’s dead. It’s phony.

    Like I said before – grow up!

    Reply this comment
  9. John G.
    John G. 4 April, 2012, 11:37

    Dead FDR was a shyster, and so was this guy.

    Good column; thanks for it.

    Reply this comment
  10. bobaran
    bobaran 4 April, 2012, 11:40

    I would have to agree with Beelzebub. I worked for years next to one of the most greedy, unpleasant individuals you would ever have the misfortune of encountering. I had nothing good to say about that person when he was alive. When he passed away,I did not attend his funeral and one of our coworkers asked me why. I told the coworker it would be hypocritical for me to feign respect for someone in death whom I completely disrespected when he was alive.

    Reply this comment
  11. Bob
    Bob 4 April, 2012, 11:59

    Obammie will probably give him a Medal of Freedom posthumously and Brownie will probably name a section of the Bullet Train to Nowhere after him.

    Maybe some county political hack can name a shopping mall built through eminent domain after him.

    Reply this comment
  12. Coastal girl
    Coastal girl 4 April, 2012, 12:31

    Brilliant and spot-on assessment John. Douglas turned the Coastal Commission into a shadow government: creating law, interpreting his own law, and enforcing his own law. R.I.P. Peter. But know we gave “last rites” to “property rights” a long time ago while you were alive.

    Reply this comment
  13. Martha Montelongo
    Martha Montelongo 4 April, 2012, 14:34

    Unfortunately, the new boss will be just like the old boss… He or she may have his own preferred cronies, and they’ll continue to enjoy their reign over the coast, allowing Chateau wineries, or exclusive conference centers and retreats built on preserved lands with vistas for the rich accessible only to persons with the right political pedigrees.

    Reply this comment
  14. queeg
    queeg 4 April, 2012, 15:24

    Comrade Nichols is your fiend……

    Reply this comment
  15. queeg
    queeg 4 April, 2012, 15:25


    Reply this comment
  16. Maad Dog
    Maad Dog 4 April, 2012, 15:30

    When a person passes, it is only fitting and proper to remember and consider the entirety of that life. Not just what the departed did for a living. It is simply unkind and petty to levy professional criticisms so close to the death. It also lacks any humanity for those left behind. I believe that when any of us die, we would all like to be remembered far beyond what we did in our professions. No doubt all of us would hope that those with differing points of view would put aside such differences at our passing. Have we become so involved in our work that we cannot recognize that a fellow human being has died? Where is the respect for his soul? This lack of civility speaks badly of all who engage in the conversation.

    Reply this comment
  17. bill bailey
    bill bailey 4 April, 2012, 16:58

    In over 30 years of working for Republican legislators and always opposing the left-wing agenda of the Coastal Commission, there is a point where you must put politics aside….and that is when one passes. We all leave here one day to be judged on much greater matters than what we did professionally in this life. Freedom and being in a democracy allows us to disagree and carry individual opinions in which we should be grateful. You and I might not agree with Mr. Douglas, but to write what you wrote is wrong, immoral and appalling. You should be ashamed. May God forgive you.

    Reply this comment
  18. nowsane
    nowsane 4 April, 2012, 17:25

    I worked for a Federal Government military installation and we were constantly having to run construction projects by the Coastal Commission for their concurrence. Heights of fences or trees were subject to visual sight lines, etc, even though it was military rules which we ultimately had to follow. It really irked me that some state agency had that kind of power, even though the state had no jurisdiction, otherwise, over the property.

    Reply this comment
  19. Dan Chmielewski
    Dan Chmielewski 4 April, 2012, 17:47

    This is a cowardly post John. Very fitting of your character if you ask me.

    Reply this comment
  20. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 4 April, 2012, 18:31

    Gentlemen: I’m not in the hagiography business. When I’m dead, you can attack me all you want. I won’t care. I’ll be happy because I’ll finally be enjoying the only permanent tax exemption.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  21. stevefromsacto
    stevefromsacto 4 April, 2012, 18:45

    Thank you, John. Guess you aren’t in the decency business either. There is just no limit to where you go and what you will say to make a political point.

    Everything that is wrong with our nation’s political system can be summed up in your screed. Because someone’s politics differ from your’s does not make them scum or unworthy of even a modicum of respect.

    I have always enjoyed participating in the give-and-take on this blog. But after this, you are no longer worthy of respect.

    Reply this comment
  22. Hondo
    Hondo 4 April, 2012, 18:47

    Absolute power corrupts every time and it was so true in this case. Mr. Douglas obviously personally profited from his rulings with his property jumping so high in price. Conflict of interest was out the window. Only death could stop him.
    There is a reason my beloved California is circling the drain and it was people like Mr. Douglas that did it. While houses inland went underwater and the middle class got crushed, Mr. Douglas and his crony’s saw to it that their pots of gold were untouched by writing and enforcing rules that could not be challenged in courts.
    Like I said, only death stopped him.
    May God rest his soul down where he has gone.

    Reply this comment
  23. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 4 April, 2012, 19:54

    Apparently when Charles Manson passes on I will be socially obligated to pay him my respects according to the do-gooders on this board. It’s uncanny how some can show little or no respect for a man or his property while he’s alive but shower him w/respect him the minute he croaks. Better for you to accept and respect the differences among men than to pass judgment and impose your personal beliefs onto others. Some of us don’t subscribe to your way of thinking.

    Reply this comment
  24. stevefromsacto
    stevefromsacto 5 April, 2012, 09:15

    And you compare Peter Douglas with Charles Manson? I rest my case.

    Reply this comment
  25. LetsRide
    LetsRide 5 April, 2012, 10:12

    What a mean disgusting creep you are John Seiler. This is why everybody increasingly hates conservatives. They are mean, petty, cruel-hearted, mean spirited, sadistic monsters.

    Reply this comment
  26. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 5 April, 2012, 10:20

    LetsRide: I’m not a conservative. I oppose the Bush wars, torture, the Federal Reserve Board, the National Defense Authorization Act, No Child Left Behind, Arnold, redevelopment, Bush, Cheney, Dole, Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, etc.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  27. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 5 April, 2012, 10:53

    “And you compare Peter Douglas with Charles Manson? I rest my case”

    And where exactly do you do-gooder liberals draw the line? I thought you respected all dead people from a humanitarian perspective. Even Manson. Why didn’t you condemn Obama when he allowed the use of American scud and tomahawk on Ghadaffi’s compound in Libya that murdered innocent children living there? All in the name of privatized banking. No doubt you will vote for him again in 2012. Whoever gives you the most free crap regardless of their behavior gets your vote 🙂

    Reply this comment
  28. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 5 April, 2012, 10:58

    “LetsRide: I’m not a conservative”

    You can’t reason with these people, John. You gotta carry that ‘conservative’ label like it or not. Anytime you oppose public theft of other people’s money you are going to get trashed.

    Reply this comment
  29. Irving Schwartz
    Irving Schwartz 5 April, 2012, 13:22

    LetsRide: I am a Proud Conservative. I an not a mean, petty, cruel-hearted, mean spirited, sadistic monster. I think (that’s logic, not a feeling) that people should be responsible for their own lives. If you want my money (public dole), you can sweep my streets with a broom. If you want the job of sweeping the streets, take a drug test ( I had to take them to work in the Building Trades). If you want food stamps, just the essentials (beans, rice, cheese, ect., no goodies)why do I have to pay for free cell phones for leeches. You want to vote, show an I.D., I have friends who don’t drive but have a state I.D. with a picture on it. I could go on, but you wont get it. You don’t have a clue. Your morels and scruples can’t be taken from you, you have to give them away. Then you become a Liberal.

    Reply this comment
  30. stevefromsacto
    stevefromsacto 5 April, 2012, 15:45

    Well it’s obvious there is no line you won’t cross, Beelzebub. And Irving, you say that you are not “a mean, petty, cruel-hearted, mean spirited, sadistic monster.,” but you think it’s fine to call someone like Peter Douglas who disagrees with your politics that very thing.

    There used to be a group we called the Loyal Opposition. But there is nothing Loyal about people who brand anyone with whom they have political differences as “Charles Manson.”

    In the future, I may read your screeds from time to time to get a few laughs, but I refuse to get into the gutter any more with the likes of you.

    Reply this comment
  31. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 5 April, 2012, 17:23

    I’m not a conservative. I oppose the Bush wars, torture, the Federal Reserve Board, the National Defense Authorization Act, No Child Left Behind, Arnold, redevelopment, Bush, Cheney, Dole, Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, etc.
    – John Seiler

    I am independant, and this is scary-I agree with all of the issues you opposed. Everyone.

    Reply this comment
  32. Wayne Huber
    Wayne Huber 5 April, 2012, 19:09

    An excellent article and a fitting epitaph. This shows what can happen when a bureaucracy is formed with good intentions and expands it’s power way beyond the initial mandate. The Coastal Commission is not the only such agency in California either. California is more guilty of this sort of thing than any other stare and as a result our economic problems are for worse. It’s time to wake up especially as the Air Resources Boad is further consolidating it’s power.

    Furthermore I maintain that the author is within the bounds of good taste. Peter Douglas was a public person and must be evaluated as so.

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    Reply this comment
  33. Sam
    Sam 7 April, 2012, 09:11

    Thanks John for having the temerity to publish the truth about a person who said he loved the United States of America but clearly hated Americans.

    Appreciate it.

    Coastal Girl: You ROCK!

    Jackie: So you think it is unprofessional to publish this? How typical of you….Do you really think it was professional of Peter and his blind minions to rape and pilage the property rights in the Coastal Zone? Do you think it was professional to have him support Bonnie Neely direct Mark Lovelace to appoint RALPH friggin FAUST to our Planning Commission to attempt to have the Coastal Regulations apply inland as well (covering the whole county; cutting off the oxygen of the whole county)through “Alternative A” of the general plan update?????

    Jackie: SHAME ON YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  34. Darrik
    Darrik 9 April, 2012, 17:48

    While those of you lay blame for John’s disrespect of the dead, do you deviously smile in hiding to “accomplishments” of the CCC? One does wonder. Even though it’s an opinionated response to an Oligarchy of a commission to where the many answer to so few I bet your liberal feelings are that of mission accomplished! It’s this “style” of government along with the union control of the CA that will eventually lead to it’s demise albeit off topic yet of utmost importance.

    Reply this comment

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