HMB mayor, attorney say Coastal Commission staff is lying to legislature


Posted by on Wed, May 28, 2008

In a press release introducing a new "truthsquad" web page,  Half Moon Bay Mayor Bonnie McClung and the city’s attorney Lanny Davis say that the Coastal Commission staff is lying to the legislature:

"The Commission staff has every right to oppose this legislation based on the facts, but the City cannot allow these false statements to go unchallenged," Mayor McClung said. "Once it became clear that the staff was misrepresenting its own history with the Beachwood property in an attempt to stop legislation that is vital to our City’s future, I knew we had to set the record straight."
...
"Because the Commission staff continues to consistently and repeatedly make misleading statements, despite multiple corrections by the City, I can only conclude the staff is intentionally misleading and spreading knowingly false statements to members of the Legislature," said Lanny Davis, an attorney for Half Moon Bay and partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. "When the legislators discover the truth, they will resent being misled by the Coastal Commission, a public commission that has already lost credibility on this issue."

Emphasis added. Click to read the full press release.

Half Moon Bay Mayor Unveils Truth Squad To Rebut False and Misleading Statements by Opponents of Special Rescue Legislation

Mayor Launches Effort with Letter to California Legislators in Response to Ongoing Misinformation Campaign by California Coastal Commission Staff

HALF MOON BAY, Calif.—(BUSINESS WIRE)—Half Moon Bay Mayor Bonnie McClung announced today that the City would launch a truth squad campaign to respond to false or misleading statements made by opponents of AB 1991. A special City web page, www.half-moon-bay.ca.us/truthsquad, will track false or misleading claims made by opponents of AB 1991 and provide the facts to rebut them.

Mayor McClung initiated the truth-squad page in response to a flyer distributed by California Coastal Commission staff members that contained numerous inaccuracies. "The Commission staff has every right to oppose this legislation based on the facts, but the City cannot allow these false statements to go unchallenged," Mayor McClung said. "Once it became clear that the staff was misrepresenting its own history with the Beachwood property in an attempt to stop legislation that is vital to our City’s future, I knew we had to set the record straight."

The Mayor was referring to a document sent to members of the California Legislature by Coastal Commission staff claiming that the man-made wetlands on the majority of Beachwood were "disturbed but naturally occurring wetlands that had always been there" and that the City "ignore[ed] wetlands that they failed to delineate because they used the wrong standard" when they approved a subdivision plan for Beachwood in 1990. This claim is contradicted by two prior Commission actions: 1) in 1983, the Commission approved a Coastal Development Permit allowing the City to undertake grading and drainage improvements on Beachwood without identifying any wetland resources on the property, despite the fact that the report contained a specific discussion of wetland resources; 2) in 1991, just one year after the City approved the subdivision plan for Beachwood without finding any wetlands on the property, a finding criticized today by the Commission staff, the Commission itself approved a permit to place 32,000 cubic feet of dirt onto Beachwood.

Under California law, this approval would have been illegal if wetlands had existed on the property at the time. Additionally, the Yamagiwa v. City of Half Moon Bay federal court opinion in November 2007 found that "the evidence is overwhelming that there were no wetlands on Beachwood outside its southeast corner," prior to the grading and drainage improvements approved by the Commission in 1983.

"Because the Commission staff continues to consistently and repeatedly make misleading statements, despite multiple corrections by the City, I can only conclude the staff is intentionally misleading and spreading knowingly false statements to members of the Legislature," said Lanny Davis, an attorney for Half Moon Bay and partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. "When the legislators discover the truth, they will resent being misled by the Coastal Commission, a public commission that has already lost credibility on this issue."


Add me to the list.

It is very clear that Coastal Commission staff, particularly Ms. Christie, are presenting misleading and often conflicting facts and, many times, omitting important facts that hurt their case.

It happened again today, on the Assembly Floor. How can this happen?
Christie has clearly ‘misinformed’ anyone that will listen. Call it what you like, and sluff it off casually if you like under the guise of enthusiasm, but when I was growing up we called it Lying (and got spanked and sent to our rooms {w/o nintendo, TV, phones, etc}). Although I point to Christie, she’s not the only one, but she does ‘represent’ probably the most powerful State Agency in CA.
It really is shocking to me.

You guys are using the wrong terminology.  The PC phrase for libs is “mis-speak”.

Never thought I’d say this but the Slickster’s lawyer did an awesome job, understood the competition and knew how to divide them.  I guess it takes one to beat one.

Now there’s a creditability issue with the CCC and the eco groups from the far reaches of the state. The legislators are going to take what they say with a grain of salt now.

And if they try and flip flop they’ll just dig a deeper hole for themselves and Lanny will be glad to point that out to the Senate.

I’m stunned.  This may actually pass.  I’ll really miss that wetland wonder by McDonald’s and the sewer plant.

The lies and scum-bagging are all HMB’s. The web page is obviously a fabrication of their advisors—probably the Lanny Davis PR law firm or the lobbyist. Their points in the right-hand column have already been thoroughly rebutted. They appear there at this time to try to influence a public that is becoming aware of their misdeeds in giving a sweetheart deal to their favorite developer and in sweeping exemptions from environmental law for a private developper in the coastal zone. A bad city gets worse, this time by tearing down protective regulations wholesale to cover mistakes the city made (some say purposely to promote more overdevelopment).

So, it’s on to the next steps. The opposition to the sweeping exemptions (dictated by the settlement) in the disgusting bill won’t stop just yet.

For those who still don’t get the nature of the negative legislative precedent this bill creates, here, once again, is an excerpt from the Assembly legislative analyst’s summary:

“No Legislature may bind future Legislatures in any way.  This
      bill cannot prohibit future bills creating exemptions from the
      state’s environmental laws from being passed and signed into
      law.  It cannot guarantee that the criteria established by this
      bill requiring that all three of the elements set forth be
      present in order for exemptions to be granted will be followed
      in the future.  It is not difficult to imagine scenarios that
      differ greatly from the one behind this bill in detail but whose
      consequences could be characterized as equally dire without
      wholesale exemptions from environmental laws.  While limited
                                                        exemptions to the environmental statutes and regulations
      affected by this bill have been granted before, it appears that
      exemptions of the scope set forth in this bill from so many
      different statutes are unprecedented.  They will no longer be
      unprecedented if this bill passes.  Statements of legislative
      intent are generally of more use to courts than they are to
      future legislators.”

The City Council, and in particular Mayor Bonnie McClung are an embarassment. It is unacceptable to go around insulting a state regulatory agency.

The ones who are lying here are the City Council members as they recite the lines written for them by Mr. Spin Lanny Davis.

The legislative analyst from the 5/30 Appropriations Committee accurately summarized the objections to AB 1991 as follows:

1. The bill creates an extremely undesirable precedent; no project wholly within the coastal zone has ever been completely exempted from Coastal Act requirements.

2. The Beachwood settlement signed by the City Council is heavily weighted in favor of the developer.

3. The settlement also includes the Glencree subdivision, a project that has never been the subject of a coastal development permit application, was not included in any litigation, and is wholly inconsistent with numerous coastal resource protection policies.

4. Authorizing development today based on a preliminary environmental review done in the year 1990 will result in unacceptable and unmitigated adverse impacts to coastal resources, and will have negative impacts on traffic on Highways 1 and 92.

The “truth squad” marks a new low for Half Moon Bay’s credibility in protecting the environment.

Brain, George and Steven,

Despicable how you fall for Lanny Davis’s lies, blame the Coastal Commission for HMB’s self-created problems, then call Sarah Christie a liar. She has a far better command of the facts than any of you.

McClung and Davis base much of their argument on the fact that HMB approved the subdivision in 1991. The problems is that HMB did not yet have the authority to approved development. Their LCP had not yet been certified by the Coastal Commission.

McClung and Davis also imply that you’re not supposed to build on parcels with wetlands. Not true—you can develop those parcels, just not those parts that have wetlands.

I’ll take the word of Sarah Christie over that of HMB’s mayor or professional spinmeisters any day.

“AB 1991 Truth Squad”

The “Truth Squad” - what is Truth? Sort of depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is.

Ken Johnson

The truth is AB 1991 is on to the Senate with a commanding victory.  And that’s no Mis-Speak.

Ms. Drouillard,

Your lack of command of basic facts of the entire Beachwood matter along with a misreading of my comment (in addition to the dozens you have misread over the past weeks) are actually pretty funny.

Defend Ms. Christie all you want - just be sure to google her name along with San Luis Obispo Grand Jury.  While you are checking out her record of conflicts, please take a look at Mr. Lansing’s record of being on the wrong side of the truth too (Coverdale lot sale, historical signficance of Cunha MS, Pastorino appeal to CCC, Church St. house, etc.  The list is long).

Who’s right and who’s lying…well everyone will project some sort of “CYA” behavior now and then.
-Cid

AB 1991 passed out of Assembly with 46 to 18 votes for vs. against today.

“...commanding victory.”

Laugh of the day. It took 5 hours of cajoling, arm-twisting, political dealing, and the like after the failure of the 4:30 PM vote to squeeze out the votes needed for passage. Clearly, a lot of Assembly members did not want to go on record for this embarrassing dog.

Carl May

Makes you wonder what Mr. Mullin had to give up in exchange for those votes, doesn’t it?

On the plus side, I see that 3 Republicans did the right thing (Berryhill, Blakeslee and Spitzer). Too bad they couldn’t talk more sense into the other members of their caucus.

Leonard,
I too was reminded of George Orwell’s “Ministry of Truth” in his satiric novel 1984.  The “Truth Squad” is a chilling development designed to quash any thoughtful discussion of opposing ideas, especially as it follows Marina Frasier’s impassioned statement that “we’re at war”.

Sofia

Brian, there seems to be a good deal of back and forth on whether the SLO county grand jury was doing to developers’ bidding. Knowing coastal county politics the way I do, I’d hardly be shocked it were.

So, unless you can substantiate your insinuation with better citations than “google it”,  please refrain from slinging mud.

All—You can call me “Frank.”

I’d also like to address a point raised regarding my knowledge of the Beachwood parcel.

Frankly, I don’t care about the Beachwood parcel, its developer, HMB or anyone living in HMB.

What I do care about is the adverse effect that AB 1991 will have on my coastal community, and I intend to stop it.

If the good citizens of HMB would address those concerns rather than challenge their validity, they might get a little more sympathy for their plight.

Frank ponders Makes you wonder what Mr. Mullin had to give up in exchange for those votes, doesn’t it?

Who knows?  Ouch, quack, ouch, quack.  Mullin’s termed out.

Frank,

A friend and I spent a couple of hours per day for the very few working days between the Appropriations Committee vote and yesterday’s Assembly Floor session contacting out-of-area individuals and groups about the wholesale environmental exemptions in AB 1991. I have donated to a half dozen of these in a small way for many years.

It was time well spent. We were asking that the groups add themselves to the coalition against AB 1991, contact their district legislators, and contact their members. More than one can reasonably expect, but I know all but one did contact their Assembly member, and I’m not so sure the last did not as well. Several knew about the bill but assumed their positions were being covered by other organizations already in the coalition. They’re adding their names to the coalition.

Your Assembly member, Patty Berg, did not really need any more encouragement to oppose the bill. One of the groups we contacted, EPIC, got in touch with her after our call and were told not to worry. Opposite side of the political aisle from you, but she’s strong on environmental principles in a district where the extractive timber industry, which is also a big property owner with occasional desires to develop (Maxxum, Masonite, etc.) can give her a hard time.

On to the Senate. I used to know Wes Chesbro, having met him and part of his family on a backpacking trip on the coast and again through business with some coastal access OTDs in Mendocino and Humboldt counties. But no experience with Pat Wiggins. She’s in the Legislature’s Environmental and Rural Caucuses; but as we saw, once again, in the Assembly vote, the “environmental” label amounts to nothing more than public posturing for some of these people.

Time to head into the next phase. As your stalwart three show, we shouldn’t forget the Senate Republicans who might vote against this callous law-grinder.

Been forced to learn and recall more about the state legislative process than I ever wanted to. Here’s a link to a pretty good quickie overview on the state museum’s website that a little birdie sent me:

http://www.capitolmuseum.ca.gov/Citizens.aspx?Content2=1090

Carl May