Steve Lopez, LOS ANGELES TIMES
Yes it’s true, sharks are everywhere along the California coast this summer. But by all appearances, a far bigger threat to your enjoyment of the state’s fabulous beaches has been contained for now.
It’s a new day at the California Coastal Commission.
You remember the drama last year, right?
I don’t get to take up an entire section of the newspaper, so I can only touch on the many ways in which the coast was imperiled by conflicts of interest, the clout of pro-development forces, the undermining of staff experts and a head-smacking lack of professionalism among certain members of the Coastal Commission.
In February 2016, commissioners — appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders — stunned and angered hundreds of spectators when they summarily dismissed the agency’s respected executive director. Charles Lester had staunchly defended his staff’s independence from outside influence while adhering to the letter of the law on coastal preservation, and he made a dramatic appeal to keep his job, to no avail.
But in an unintended way, the firing was a blessing.
“They got away with getting rid of Charles,” said former Commissioner Sara Wan, “but they didn’t get away with the public response.”
In fact, the fall of Lester has led to the toppling of a hyperactive commission that seemed at times to have forgotten its duty to the Coastal Act, and to the guiding principle that the unsurpassed 1,100-mile coast is not anybody’s — it’s everybody’s.