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February 15, 2016

AFTER THE MORRO BAY MASSACRE, WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE COASTAL COMMISSION

By Serge Dedina
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With the unprecedented February 10th firing of California Coastal Commission Executive Director Dr. Charles Lester, a once globally recognized coastal management authority stands at a crossroads. Will pro-development coastal commissioners who fired a 20-year agency veteran, steer the Commission away from coastal management, protection and ensuring coastal access, to being more of a rubber stamp for development? Or will more enlightened forces in California who recognize the intrinsic value of our magical and open coastline prevail to make sure that the Coastal Commission remains a management rather than development agency.

For WILDCOAST, what is clear from the "Morro Bay Massacre", is that there is little oversight or accountability of Commissioners, especially as it relates to their relationships and meetings with lobbyists. We hope that the California Legislature can remedy this to ensure that Commissioners do not just become vessels for the development interests who seek to make billions off of mega-development projects for the California coastline and who seek to close access to our shoreline.

Ultimately it is critical that the Commission hire a superbly qualified Executive Director with a strong background in coastal management as well as in public administration. This should not be a business as usual hire of someone who answers to corporate interests. The new Executive Director needs to be a person committed to science and the public interest as well as making sure that California is committed to dealing with and planning for sea level rise planning and adaptation. Additionally, the Commission must include independent nationally recognized experts in coastal management in the Executive Director search process.

While developers fail to acknowledge the reality of our sea-level rise impacted coastline, the fact is, that our changing climate means that business as usual along the California coastline can no longer be a fall-back strategy for developers and other corporate interests whose only interests seems are in developing a shoreline that in the future most likely will be underwater.

#SAVEOURCOAST