This won’t end well: Coastal Commission gets more power

This won’t end well: Coastal Commission gets more power

peter.douglasBudget trailer bills continue to be a great vehicle for legslative mischief in Sacramento. Here we go again, reports the Merc-News:

“The California Coastal Commission can now fine property owners who illegally block public access to beaches, putting new teeth into a 38-year-old environmental law, under a budget trailer bill that Gov. Jerry Brown signed Friday.

“The commission’s new power could affect landowners all up and down California’s coast … .

“Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, had carried a bill last year to empower the commission, but it fell a few votes short of passage when some fellow Democrats got cold feet at the last minute. She finally succeeded Friday by slipping the bill through as part of the $108 billion state budget package.”

As is always the case on these issues, the PLF provided crucial context:

“Damien Schiff, a principal attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, said landowners will now bear the burden of suing the commission if they feel a fine is improper.

“‘A lot of property owners would say the potential downside risk — the value of the penalties and the costs of litigating — could be so high that, even if that property owner was 100 percent certain that he’s right on the law, it wouldn’t be worth it to him,’ Schiff said, calling the new law ‘a significant game-changer.’ …

“Atkins called those fears ‘as of yet unfounded, and unreasonable. … I don’t think the Coastal Commission will overreach.'”

Who cares what happened in 2006? This is 2014!

This is a classic example of what people mean when they say term limits wipes out institutional memory. Anyone who’s been following state politics for more than the six years Atkins has been in the Assembly knows “overreach” is what the Coastal Commission does.

The agency was founded by a guy who literally didn’t believe in private property rights and who enjoyed mystical babbling about the needs of Gaia — an enviro religion dressed up with scientific terminology. Peter Douglas’ radicalism has animated the agency ever since. I wrote about the sort of governance that results from this mind-set in a 2006 Union-Tribune editorial:

Consider the case of San Luis Obispo engineer Dennis Schneider, who hoped to build his dream home on a cliff above the ocean in a remote area north of Cayucos. Incredibly by normal cognitive standards, typically by Coastal Commission standards, the agency blocked his plans on the grounds that the home would be such an aesthetic affront to passing kayakers, boaters and surfers that it would violate their rights. We are not making this up.” 

Douglas resigned as Coastal Commission executive director in 2011 and died a year later, so the upper reaches of the agency remain jammed with holdovers from his long reign. We can expect these zealous bureaucrats to go overboard with their new powers.

It’s what Peter wants. It’s what Gaia (sigh-a) needs.



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  1. John Seiler
    John Seiler 22 June, 2014, 09:53

    As I wrote on at the time Douglas died two years ago, he profited handsomely from the limitations on property use along the coast he imposed when his own property soared in value:

    Reply this comment
  2. Buds Led Ted S.
    Buds Led Ted S. 22 June, 2014, 20:22

    Peter Douglas was a California legend and left the place much better protected than it was before he arrived and wrote the Coastal Act.

    The act and the commission it created is the only thing standing between greedy developers and us.

    RIP Peter!

    Reply this comment
  3. Buds Led Ted S.
    Buds Led Ted S. 22 June, 2014, 20:27

    Chris–Do you want to live in a world where only the 1% ers can get to the beach?

    Reply this comment
  4. Queeg
    Queeg 22 June, 2014, 20:38

    In many cases beach property is poorly insulated, older and requires high maintenance. But the hoards keep coming bring pollution, congestion, big autos, dumb ideas and sacks of money all to wear a ball cap and sit in a third rate overpriced local joint with like minded fools.

    That’s why you need a coastal Commission to make sense of flight insanity.

    Reply this comment
  5. Bill Gore
    Bill Gore 23 June, 2014, 14:52

    Here in OREGON the public has access to our VAST UNSPOILED coastline enshrined in the state constitution.

    The super-rich are strongly encouraged to keep their cheesy, grabby, show-off impulses under control.

    Our beach townsreally are the funky (weatherbeaten) little places they should be, unlike down in lala land……

    Reply this comment
  6. The Great Ted
    The Great Ted 23 June, 2014, 20:49

    It’s true Bill but the reason Ore. beaches are still nice is because they have a millionth of the traffic Cali beaches have because the weather here is beautiful and in Ore. it’s not.

    But I agree– Ore beach towns are wonderful—- I wish I could turn back the hands of time to bring it back here again!

    Reply this comment
    • Bill Gore
      Bill Gore 24 June, 2014, 08:44

      Come up and visit in the summer: blue skies and sunshine. Winter at the coast can be pretty grim, but even then there are beautiful days. I’ll take Newport Oregon over Newport Beach CA ANY day

      Reply this comment
  7. Chris Reed
    Chris Reed 24 June, 2014, 16:03

    Ted, of course I think beach access laws should be enforced. But I don’t trust the Coastal Commission with more power.

    Reply this comment
  8. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 24 June, 2014, 19:18

    If not the Coastal Commission, Chris, then who (or what)?

    Reply this comment
  9. Ted
    Ted "Eddy Baby" Steele, Associate Prof. 24 June, 2014, 21:53

    Skip— He trusts the free market and developers to control themselves!

    LOL ™

    Reply this comment
  10. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 24 June, 2014, 23:40

    He trusts the “free market” if it will make his boss “Papa Doug” a few more dollars.

    Reply this comment
  11. Novak
    Novak 25 June, 2014, 07:59

    All the coastal commission cares about is money and power. They are a rogue agency that reports to nobody. If it were up to them, NOBODY would have access to the beach. Hell, if it were up to them, nobody would live within 20 miles of the beach, the mountains included. They are nothing but bullies, trying to muscle everyone away from the coast. Do people really believe that we wouldn’t still have access to state owned beaches, just because all of ONE home owner says “nope, access the beach elsewhere, other than through my property”? Get real. Nobody can develop on the beaches without state and county permission and permits anyway, so what exactly is the point of this agency? And no way is the state nor counties going to permit ANYTHING, so again, the rogue agency serves no purpose. They steal land, and sell it to rich preservation groups, or to the state. At least if the land were developed, it would be useful. How much land needs to be preserved exactly? Over 50% already is. Perhaps 70%? 90%? I guess the posters here don’t like having a place to live, or even the option to choose WHERE to live within their own state. Oh well, I guess that’s bitter, angry aging hippies for ya!

    Reply this comment
  12. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 26 June, 2014, 14:15


    Is the CCC about money and power or are developers?

    I think most of us Californians know the answer to that and that’s why we passed the Coastal Act!!

    Reply this comment
  13. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 26 June, 2014, 14:17


    and some more bad news for ya little buddy!

    I am an “old hippie” who lives comfortably in a house almost on the beach that you can’t afford—- and I vote!!

    Reply this comment
  14. Christine
    Christine 1 July, 2014, 22:43

    You folks better get behind Barbara Decker who is running against Toni Atkins and she needs ALL the help and support she can get! Toni is getting $16000 a DAY in money from special interests. Barbara is all small individual donations. Shes a small biz owner and we should be grateful she stepped up for this job! PLEASE no matter where you live get behind her and SPREAD THE WORD! I have been warning about how dangerous Toni is for 10 years now!

    Reply this comment

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