Legislative swooning over CA coastal guru

April 9, 2012

By Katy Grimes

In the California Assembly and Senate Monday, one would have thought that Franklin Delano Roosevelt had just died and was being eulogized. But the ghost of FDR was not present. Instead, Peter Douglas of the notorious California Coastal Commission, who passed away last week, was on the menu of latest favorite legislative adjournment in memory devotionals.

Based on the unusually lengthy and numerous speeches, Democratic lawmakers apparently think Douglas was a king or a saint.

“The coast is never saved, it’s always in the process of being saved,” lawmakers from  the Senate and Assembly said in both houses today, using an oft-repeated quote by Douglas from a 2001 Los Angeles Times story in their eulogies.

“Saved from what… blocked views?” a Capitol friend asked me.

Douglas is “the person who did the most to wreck California the past 25 years,” my colleague John Seiler recently wrote.

No friend of homeowners in coastal regions, Douglas was responsible for decades of Coastal Commission abuse of homeowners through denials of any kind of development — except for those with mega-bucks. I have watched for years as the California Coastal Commission has obstructed and practiced the worst forms of state-activism-with-a-badge against middle and working class homeowners.

Homeowners who just happened to purchase lower-priced homes within miles of the coast have been subjected to horrible property rights abuse by the commission, and been denied basic bathroom and kitchen updates, outdoor painting, deck additions, garage rebuilds and landscaping re-do’s. The commission is notorious for being drunk with power, and bestowing privileges only on celebrities and the very wealthy.

“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,” Seiler wrote.

And since Douglas was a property owner in the state’s beautiful high-rent area of Marin County, and on the Smith River in Del Norte County, it’s not difficult imagining his personal interest in locking the door behind him.

“Along the coast now, matters are getting even worse,” Seiler wrote. “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.”

Ironically, Douglas graduated in 1960 from the exclusive Robert Louis Stevenson prep school in Pebble Beach, where he attended  8th grade through 12th–a value today worth more than $250,000 in tuition. RLS is an exclusive boarding school for children as young as pre-kindergarten, through high school graduation.

In 2005, Douglas received an award from “RLS,” as it is commonly known on the Monterey Coast, and to California elites. “On Saturday night of Reunion Weekend the Alumni Association recognized three alumni. Peter Douglas ’60, an attorney and Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission received the Merle Greene Robertson Award for Service to Society,” RLS published in 2005.

Republicans followed the Thumper rule Monday on manners: “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say nothing at all.”

I prefer Gertrude Stein’s version: “If you can’t say anything nice about anyone else, come sit next to me.”

And sit by me they did.

I can’t repeat what others said about Monday’s legislative swooning and fawning over one of the worst anti-property rights abusers in the history of the state. But I will say that state  Capitol employees from both sides of the aisle at the Capitol weren’t happy about the embarrassing and unprofessional pander.

Watch it for yourself: California Channel April 9, 2012.

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  1. Sarah Christie
    Sarah Christie 10 April, 2012, 11:35

    FYI, Peter attended RLS on a working scholarship. He had to wash dishes, mop floors and clean stables for his room and board becasue his family couldnt afford the tuition. As the San Jose Mercury News so aptly noted in their editorial, “You can’t change the world and have everybody love you.” You and I obviously talk to different “Capitol employees,” but I can assure you that staffers were also actively supporting their members’ eulogizing of Peter, and are actively grieving his passing as an incalculable loss to the people and the resources of this great state.

    Reply this comment
  2. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 10 April, 2012, 12:31


    The reason I talk to different Capitol employees is so that I can learn both sides of issues. It’s always interesting when I hear similar thoughts on a subject coming from different sides of the political aisle.

    I think it is fantastic if Mr. Douglas had to work his way through one of the most prestigious prep schools in the country. Usually experiences like his produce people who love freedom and liberty, and respect the rights of others… unless he found his experience degrading, which may account for the bitter, elitist views he held.

    I did not know Mr. Douglas personally, and I am not commenting on his personal life. However, his activism on the Coastal Commission ruined the lives of many hard-working people. He was viciously contemptuous of property rights, and together with his fellow board members, got away with extorting money and property from taxpaying California residents.

    “Incalculable loss” should be reserved instead for the many property owners so contemptuously abused over the decades by his Coastal Commission.

    Katy Grimes

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  3. Martha Montelongo
    Martha Montelongo 10 April, 2012, 20:56

    I prefer Gertrude Stein’s version: ‘If you can’t say anything nice about anyone else, come sit next to me.’

    And sit by me they did.” Great line.

    Reply this comment
  4. queeg
    queeg 12 April, 2012, 07:53

    Lets move on..

    Reply this comment
  5. Peter Grimes
    Peter Grimes 11 November, 2012, 14:15

    Peter was the voice of the Coastal Act and was a stellar student of politics. The local governments would not, as elected officials, change or protect the environment for the communities in which they were elected to protect and thus a State Agency is and was voted into play the People and not by state legislators who had their hands-tied to elections. Democracy by and for the People was formed and though not a perfect piece of statute (which became law after compromise), it was and is this law which the local officials must work with in order to think outside the box. It’s easier for folks that have homes and are secured with money to complain v. those who wish and cannot visit the coastline b/c it may be in private hands. Maybe read the constitution regarding public rights to navigable waters and the other environmental laws that protects California environment as well as brings in billions of tourists dollars from around the world – folks who come to visit the coast and its preservation and not your home (or blog).

    Reply this comment
  6. Ted
    Ted 26 November, 2012, 09:00

    RIP Peter– Mendo to BC– You were a giant! But I still remember that almost LA Times headline about the “Baja Incident” I got you involved in!!!

    Reply this comment

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