Capitol Alert

Legislators urge Jerry Brown to intervene in California Coastal Commission spat

Windsurfers and kiteboarders ride the winds and waves of Waddell Beach on June 24, 2014.
Windsurfers and kiteboarders ride the winds and waves of Waddell Beach on June 24, 2014. mcrisostomo@sacbee.com

Escalating a dispute over the management of California’s coastline, a group of California lawmakers is urging Gov. Jerry Brown to protect the imperiled head of the California Coastal Commission.

Environmentalists attribute the move to oust Executive Director Charles Lester to pro-development forces. Given its authority to oversee new projects along California’s ecologically sensitive coast, the commission must constantly mediate tension between builders and environmentalists.

Now a group of Democratic lawmakers is rallying behind Lester, warning in a letter to Brown that firing Lester “would be disruptive to achieving the state’s coastal protection and management goals.”

“We urge you to weigh in with support to maintain the independence of the California Coastal Commission staff and retain Dr. Charles Lester as its respected and trusted leader,” reads the letter.

The letter, which 16 senators and assemblymembers signed, argues that the commission has “made significant progress” under Lester in addressing sea level rise and using newly authorized fines to preserve beach access while ensuring that “processing times for coastal development permits and appeals have been significantly reduced.”

In an emailed statement, Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said the debate over Lester “is a personnel matter – initiated without any involvement from our office – for the Coastal Commission to decide.”

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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