Stop SB 1295: Defend Coastal Commission

Press release

Posted by on Fri, March 21, 2008

NOTE: The deadline for this appears to have already passed.

Senate Bill 1295 by Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny (San Diego) would eliminate the Coastal Commission’s ability to appeal development permits granted by local governments up and down the coast.  Please write or fax Senator Darrell Steinberg, Chair, Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee.  Tell him you oppose SB 1295, and send a copy to Senator Ducheny.

What’s Happening

Senator Ducheny’s bill would eliminate the ability of the Coastal Commission to appeal coastal development permits granted by local governments.  While members of the public can also appeal these permits, citizens and non-profit organizations do not always have the resources or ability to monitor every single one of the hundreds of local permits up and down the coast and appeal the significant ones within a very short ten-day time frame.

Why this is Important

The California Coastal Act provides for oversight by the Coastal Commission over development proposals along the coast.  While the primary responsibility for reviewing projects lies with local governments, the Coastal Commission acts as an appeal body for projects that could adversely affect sensitive coastal habitats, scenic resources, water quality, or public access. The staff of the Coastal Commission receives notice of all local projects, and under the present law, can appeal them by having two Commissioners sign on to an appeal. Once appealed, the public has the opportunity to address issues of concern to them.  If the Commission’s ability to appeal projects is eliminated, many will fall through the cracks, and our coast could be seriously affected by inappropriate or harmful development.

What you can do

Please write or fax Senator Steinberg and send a copy to Senator Ducheny.  We recommend faxing as all letters must be received by March 18th and faxes have more impact than e-mails.  Please let us know that you have written [email protected]

or fax (650) 968-8431.

A sample letter is below - but it is always best if you use your own words.

Senator Darrell Steinberg, Chair, Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee:
State Capitol, Room 4035
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: 916-323-2263

Senator Denise Ducheny
State Capitol, Room 5035
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax:  (916) 327-3522

SAMPLE LETTER

I am writing to express my strong opposition to SB 1295.  This bill will seriously undermine the intent of Proposition 20, approved by the voters in 1972, and the Coastal Act, which was to have state oversight of development along the coast.

The current process allows the professional staff of the Coastal Commission, which receives notice of all projects approved locally, to review these projects for their possible adverse impacts.  It is not possible for the public to monitor and be aware of every proposal, or to appear at the appropriate local hearing in order to have "standing" to appeal.

On the other hand, the Commission gets notified of all local actions.  The Commission staff reviews them and flags the problematic ones.  Then they notify two Commissioners, as required by the Coastal Act, who may agree to bring the appeal before the entire Commission for consideration.  The appeal process is the ONLY oversight the Commission has over local decisions. Eliminating the Commission from the process has a serious potential to result in significant adverse impacts to our coastal resources.

Sincerely, (your name)

Thanks for speaking up for coastal protection!  Your voice does make a difference!

Committee for Green Foothills

3921 East Bayshore Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303

Phone (650) 968-7243 Fax (650) 968-8431


It’s about time. I can’t begin to express my elation that finally someone in a position to effect change, and right a terrible wrong, has stepped to the plate and initiated action.
I will do everything in my power to support Senator Ducheney with Senate Bill 1295.
This is very good news indeed.

Posted on March 21, yet “Please write or fax Senator Steinberg and send a copy to Senator Ducheny.  We recommend faxing as all letters must be received by March 18th.” This notice wasn’t posted anywhere else that I’ve seen. Who’s on first?

Finally the State is doing something about a system that has been, and is being abused by the “Usual Suspects”.  Local governments should know better what their local situations are, than a staffer sitting in a hotel in Southern California does.

The majority of these ‘after the fact’ spurious appeals are nothing more than No-Growthers continuing on in their efforts, and with the CCC, it’s free.  SMCO has raised their fees and the process for appeals is more difficult, so the appelants are waiting until all approvals are in, and then writing or emailing a letter to the CCC, and without having to file any appeal paperwork, fees, or personally showing up at the hearing, they stop projects cold.  I am totally in support of this bill.
Greg Ward

George, perhaps you could elaborate on what you think is wrong with the current appeals system. I mean, the right of appeal is fundamental, and it’s clear that plenty of municipalities have the incentive and will to flout the Coastal Act and their own Local Coastal Programs. We’ve also got the basic premise of the Coastal Act that the coast doesn’t simply belong to the people who live there.

It seems to me that a robust appeals system is essential.

Well now, first we have George saying he doesn’t want a regulatory agency (the Coastal Commission) to be able to take independent action to make sure the law is being followed.

This would be like creating the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and then saying that the SEC cannot go after financial market fraud unless some local citizen filed an offical complaint. Now George, do really think that kind of regulation is going to accomplish the intent of the law?

Next we have Greg, a developer who knows how to get his way with the pro-development HMB City Council:

http://talkabout.hmbreview.com/topic.php?t=587&c=1&d;=

Is anybody surprised that a developer would want to envicerate the Coastal Commission’s ability to enforce the law?

Greg says: Finally the State is doing something about a system that has been, and is being abused by the “Usual Suspects”. 

But, of course, this bill would not prevent this from happening.  It would prevent commissioners themselves from appealing.  Which seems to defeat the entire spirit of the Coastal Act.

People who find coastal protection in overpopulated California inconvenient for their personal wealth-building schemes have been grinding away at the Coastal Act for decades. In fact, the state-legislature-created Coastal Act of 1976 already diminished the letter and intent of Proposition 20, the popular people’s initiative that forced the folks in Sacramento to implement coastal protection.

In the American system, all statutes and regulations protective of the natural environment erode at one rate or another—but all quickly. This phenomenon holds true at all levels of government. The *best* any protective laws and court successes have accomplished is a delay of environmental degradation of one sort or another until the next battle.

The California Coastal Act of 1976, already full of compromises when it was signed into law, has been under assault from the beginning. By the late 1980’s, it was already clear it was failing badly in some respects after the many legal assaults on it and changes to it. It was also patently clear state government was not about to do anything to shore it up.

So everything done to uphold the protective provisions of the Coastal Act since 1990, and probably before, adds up to no better than a holding action until the Coastal Act can be replaced. In California, it will undoubtedly take another citizens initiative to do that; and such an initiative would pass handily in spite of the massive amounts of money that would be thrown against it if the overwhelming support for coastal protection seen in polls holds up.

This current changing of the appeals process is just more erosion of the law’s ability to protect the coast. Since 1976, California’s coast has continued to be artificially damaged in spite of the Coastal Act—a lot in some places and not as much as would have happened without the Coastal Act overseen by the (highly political) Coastal Commission in others. More simply, we have not been able to hold the line on coastal degradation. The elimination of the cleanest, most direct form of appeal by those most knowledgeable of the issues involved will be another large hole in the already rusty, beat-up legal armor.

Since 1990 at the *latest*, we have needed a new “Prop 20” to subdue the narrow, self-serving special interests and close the loopholes in the original Act and those that have been created since through lobbying and losses in court. Even some of the authors of the original Prop 20 have long recognized this. Here we are a decade and a half later and there is no coherent movement toward such a thing. Spending energy fighting for anything less than a new and better law is finger in the dike stuff.

Carl May

So, once again, the label “developer” is laid on anyone who disagrees with Carl or Kevin, or the “usual suspects”.  Kevin is intimate with a couple of staffers on the CCC, and naturally doesn’t want anything to interfere with this intimacy.  Carl is just flat against anything.  I agree that the whole CCC is in need of total restructuring, with input from ALL parties, not just the ECO-Nazis.
Greg

Wow.  “ECO-Nazis?”

That’s just absolutely out of line if you really sit down to consider what is meant by your flippant comment Greg.  You just reduced to a playground hissy fit, what could have been a meaningful discourse on your view versus our view. 

I take great offense at the term “nazi.”  You should apologize to everyone.

On another note, the original post in particular, it is my belief that this proposed bill arose over the defeated toll road down south at San Onofre.  Folks who wanted to freeway through California’s dwindling wilderness didn’t get their way, when the estimated count of 5,000 people showed up to protest the toll road at the Coastal Commission hearing, so now we have to battle those same folks in batting down this nonsensical bill proposal.

California State Parks are on the outs due to the Governator not wanting to provide funding, and as a solution to the constant traffic problem, folks want to build more freeways.  Jeez, what next?  :(

Instead of the image of a girl putting a flower in the gun barrel, how about an image of me putting a flower in a tail pipe?

Don’t expect an apology Anneliese. This is how these guys operate. Greg Ward’s comment reminds me of ex-CUSD Board Member Ken Jones, who in 2002 labeled anybody opposed to Wavecrest an “Eco-Terrorist.”

Thankfully, Wavecrest is now protected for future generations. But Greg Ward (and one well-known local mogul he works for) care only about one thing: making money by any means possible. Carl May has it exactly right. Developers and corrupt politicians will keep trying to chip away at the Coastal Act until there is nothing left to protect. People should write and fax letters to make sure this bill never sees the light of day.

Barry, in an attempt to answer your question, and not get long winded doing it, I thought I’d let someone else do the ‘talking’. Below is a link to Ron Zumbrun’s website. It is the Viewpoint link, which is a link that provides all his writings under his monthly Viewpoint pieces. Note that the page is from 2007. If readers are interested in his (and I agree with it) opinions on this matter, when at the page, hit the October link. I could not have stated my thoughts any better, so I’ll let this be my response.
http://www.zumbrunlaw.com/viewpoint07.htm
BTW Kevin, I don’t agree with your SEC analogy, as it is flawed. For starters, SEC staff do not initiate complaints. They follow directions of their employers, and you know that; or, at least, you should. It’s rather like comparing apples and oranges.

Here’s a direct link to Mr. Zumbrun’s article:

http://www.zumbrunlaw.com/viewpoints/2007/October%208,%202007.pdf

He makes several arguments:

* Commissioners are pre-signing appeals for staff’s use, so that staff can file by them before the (tight, ten day) deadline. He acknowledges that there are no known cases of signatures submitted without authority.

* Staff may be venue shopping, selecting commissioners most likely to approve of an appeal, rather than those in the community where the permit was approved.

* Staff may be violating the law against “serial meetings” by consulting multiple commissioners in order to get their approval. A serial meeting, he believes, would take place if a majority of commissioners are contacted.

In my view:

* The deadlines for a proper appeal are very tight, and staff are likely to be essential to create a quality appeal in time.  But the requirement that two commissioners sign the appeal keeps staff from running amok. I’ve only met a couple of commissioners, but they’re not the type of folks who would let other people put their names on appeals they don’t fully support.

* The six local commissioners are elected officials, making it improbable that they would appeal even the most egregious locally-approved CDP. Besides, the six “public” (at-large) commissioners should be permitted to appeal a CDP.

* To violate the serial-meeting prohibition, staff would have to talk to seven commissioners. This seems unlikely, especially if they already know who the right commissioner is likely to be for a given appeal.

It seems to me that this bill is designed to cut down the number of appeals because it’s inconvenient for developers, and not to serve any real public purpose.  An appeal must still be voted on by the Coastal Commission itself.

<snip> It seems to me that this bill is designed to cut down the number of appeals because it’s inconvenient for developers, and not to serve any real public purpose.  An appeal must still be voted on by the Coastal Commission itself.

Inconvenience,is the least of the problems that the vast majority of these appeals generates.  Everything that costs time, costs money, and affects people’s lives, and not positevely, as they have already been through the grinder locally.  For a large project, yes, some peer review should be necessary, but do it simultaneously with the local governments.  Waiting until the locals have done it, and THEN someone out of the blue appeals, usually because THEY don’t like it, only exacerbates the hard feelings. 

and <snip>I take great offense at the term “nazi.” You should apologize to everyone.

If you were to look at the amount of spurious appeals vs. the amount of valid and meaningful appeals, and I have, you will find that the higher percentages go towards appeals that are baseless.  If the people I am refering to, and they know who they are, had their way, theirs would be the last and only word, regardless of what the majority thought or voted on.  Berlin, 1939.  Sorry, no apology.
Greg Ward

Anyone who knows the genesis and history of Proposition 20 and the ensuing California Coastal Act of 1976, as now amended and weakened many times, knows there are thousands of data-loaded pages of evidence to flesh out any of the assertions made in my previous long message above.

Nice try by those who like to treat anything that goes against their short-term, private, wealth-building schemes as blankly obstructionist. But, in fact, they merely demonstrate their ignorance and lack of factual; support with such obdurate, simple-minded replies. And their ecologically naive assessments of the motives of those they dismiss only expose their lack of familiarity with and objectivity toward the actual features and condition of the California coastline. Theirs is an attempt to prey on a public overloaded with complex issues and working overtime trying to earn enough to keep body and soul together.

The attacks on Coastal Commission staff are particulary laughable, in that staff recommendations are frequently ignored or overridden by the politically appointed Coastal Commissioners. All the Coastal Commission needs to do to justify a foolish vote is affirm “findings.” Those findings can be, and frequently have been, erroneous, off-the-wall testimony, written or oral, to the Commission—factual testimony regarding the coast and reference to the specific wording of the Coastal Act in staff reports be damned. This is one of the big loopholes in the Coastal Act that needs to be fixed.

As is true in almost every avenue of government in the U.S. at this sad time in our history, what is going on is best understood by following the money. And, on the other hand, when there is no money to be gained by a particular viewpoint, individual, or group, look into their motives as well rather than accepting the characterization of someone who neither knows them nor understands what they are talking about.

Carl May

Barry and George:
Yes, exactly all of that which you summarize as the arguments from Mr. Zumbrun’s post - but - isn’t then SB 1295 (Ducheny) like throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

I mean, unless the legal tactic here is to ask for a mile, in order to gain an inch, why not first simply propose corrections to the current way of doing things?

I’m not intimately involved with the Coastal Commission, but surely I.T. may be improved within the process, so that electronic zigging & zagging of notice and signatures may be achieved, which could also fulfill regulatory requirements?  I’ll look into this.  :)

So first, let us start with regulating the appeal process, a sort-of compliance standard, if you will, rather than just tossing out the right-to-appeal of the Coastal Commission completely?

_____

As for Greg - I could choose to let this drop, I know that I do have this choice, but - I can’t.  Refuting your comparison of ecological-minded, California coastline conservatives to Nazi Germans, is then, I guess, tantamount to you saying that you feel like a Jew during the Holocaust?

Really?  “Berlin, 1939,” eh?

The California Coastal Act, enacted to not only limit the mass-development, and provide access to, our precious State’s coastline, but to also provide thoughtful, conscientious planning of development, makes you feel like your windows are broken at home?  That you must wear a yellow Star of David?  That your neighbors shun you, turn a blind eye, and allow you and your family to starve?  You feel like those who had to move from a comfortable home, to an overcrowded ghetto?  Lose your possessions?  You feel like you’ve been locked in a cattle car for hours and days on end, tightly pressed up against other bodies, only able to sleep upright, no food, no water, only to arrive at a camp separated from your family?  Starvation - Disease - and ultimately, what the Nazi Germans want, death?

Really?

Greg Ward, you’re no Jew, nor gay, nor Commie, nor any type that the Nazis were out to destroy.  You may be a victim, but that is your choice.  I’ve read the minutes from Commission hearings and there are far more “Allowed with conditions” than there are any proposals outright declined.  If you are against the appeal taking place “until the locals have done it,” then step up and communicate how you think it should be handled, rather than irresponsibly equating this to an incomparable “Berlin 1939.”

We are not ECO-Nazis.  We are not eco-terrorists.  We are not even eco-hooligans.  Nor are we a espousing ecologic hysterics.  (These are all the name-calling choices since 1970.)  We are concerned citizens hoping to retain the beauty of this landscape for our kids, and grandkids, children who will attend school with yours.

Read J. Smeaton Chase’s “California Coastal Trails” to gain an appreciation of all that’s been lost, and what little of it remains.  Or, drive southbound from Santa Monica to see what the entire coastline of California may become, had we not benefitted from 1972’s passage of the Coastal Conservation Act.

_____

Get involved.  Stay Positive.  Do something about it - no matter what “side” you are on.

George, my SEC analogy is correct.

Who do you think initiated the SEC investigations that uncovered the massive accounting frauds at Enron, Worldcom, etc? It was the SEC staff who are career professionals, not political appointees who csn be sacked at any time for not doing what their political patrons want them to do. Same goes for the CCC staff. 

Regarding your link to Zumbrun. I found this link posted on the HMB Review site to be quite informative. Your hero Zumbrun is one of the founders of the Pacific Legal Foundation. They defend big Tabacco firms and are about as anti-environmental as you get get.

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Pacific_Legal_Foundation

I stand humbled, educated, chastised, and overwhelmed by the above responses to my less-than-educated comments.  I observe someone taking a general comment to literary heights unimagined.  I see Carl wax eloquent in his normal eletist way, and I see Kevin slinging the normal rhetoric putdowns, and I am in awe.  Still no Apology.
Greg Ward

I’m going to go off topic for a moment. I feel the need to address a concern of mine. I’ll start with the obvious; this site is Barry’s sandbox, I understand that. So, it’s my choice to post, or not, depending on my comfort level and interest.

I posted an opinion to this topic. That was my choice. Barry, you responded to my post asking me to explain my thoughts on a separate topic, and added some thoughts and opinions of your own toward your request. My post simply said that I am glad to see SB 1295, which proposes the elimination of Commissioner initiated appeals. I hope it passes, and I’ll lend what support I can toward that end. I did not say, or imply that appeals are a bad thing or a good thing. I merely expressed an opinion on SB 1295.

I responded and directed readers to a piece that Zumbrun wrote, which I agree with and expresses my thoughts on this topic in a clear, concise manner. Within hours, you break Zumbrun’s comments down, repackage them in your own views, and regurgitate them for your audience. I looked through this topic and others, and I don’t see that type of responsive behavior toward anyone else. Is it that you believe Zumbrun’s Viewpoint is too complicated for your readers to grasp? Maybe you were just trying to help me explain myself? Perhaps you just like me, and hang on my every word?

I posted that link, and offered my brief explanation so your viewers could see for themselves; not to have it repackaged or restated. I believe that your readers are certainly smart enough to follow the link, read the piece, and form their own opinions. They do not need a translator. I feel it insults the intelligence of everyone that visits your site; but, it is your sand box.

Perhaps I’m not alone in my feelings. I remember, not long ago, when things were
different on this site. For example, this thread has been up since Friday. It currently has 17 posts (not including this one). Of those 17 posts, three are from you, and two from me. That leaves 12; over three days! I can remember when you’d get that many in the first 10 minutes, and this thread’s on fire relative to the other pieces on this site now. Ever wonder why that is?

I’m not being critical because we differ in opinion on just about everything, I’m expressing my concerns to bring your attention to something that I believe a lot of others feel and see as well.

Now, Kevin, again I say: apples v oranges (CCC v SEC). I have never seen a pencil pusher at the SEC initiate a complaint, exclusively do all the investigation on that complaint, and submit the investigative data in writing complete with opinions, conclusions and recommended actions to the five Presidentially appointed SEC Commissioners. There is no comparison, in my opinion, on their respective charges, scope, methodology, structure, size and willingness to get all the data right. I’ll let the readers see for themselves, though.
Coastal Commission site; http://www.coastal.ca.gov/whoweare.html
Securities & Exchange Commission; http://www.sec.gov/about/whatwedo.shtml
One more thing; I don’t recall identifying Zumbrun as my ‘hero’; however he is well recognized as one of the top land use attorneys in the State. His expertise and experience with the CCC is well known. I merely pointed to his explanation as one that I agree with and support.

Thank you, Barry, for the opportunity to express myself. Have a great day.

George, one big difference between Coastsider and TalkAbout is that you can carry on a conversation with the editor. Your comments and mine carry equal weight.  And other folks who support your position are welcome to post as well. You and I disagree about this issue, but my goal is always to have a respectful conversation about the issues.

I linked directly to the pdf of Zumbrun’s article in my comment. I think Mr. Zumbrun’s arguments are weak and obscure the real purpose of the bill. I know you disagree. If you don’t like my summary of the article you can post any of Mr. Zumbrun’s arguments that you think I missed or misinterpreted.

If you don’t like links that others have posted, you’re welcome to refute them in comments also.

My goal is to have a discussion (not an argument) and to hold everyone (including me) accountable for what they write.  That’s a different goal from the Review’s site, where you can’t comment on individual articles and you don’t have to use your real name.

I would guess that most readers of Coastsider are not going to take the opinions of a right-wing “property rights” advocate at face value. But

I would also guess that relatively few followed the Sagebrush Rebellion, the development of the “wise use” movement, and the history of the largest, most anti-environmental (on many fronts, not just land use), most pro-abuse legal combines in the West, namely the Mountain States Legal Foundation and the Pacific Legal Foundation. If you don’t know of these dug-in, hardcore legal combines, you can’t judge comments made about them nor can you trust any praise laid on their attorneys.

If you do follow the legal combines, you will know that their funding comes from a narrow few sources, most significantly big resource-exploiting corporations that generally object to any regulation that cuts into their bottom line. And hang the environmental issue involved. Their attorneys are not at all “respected” across the board on any objective basis. And though they have had some significant victories in court, they lose more than they win.

Here is a recent, somewhat lengthy article in High Country News that will bring folks up to date on the history, players, and status of the hired legal guns. If you aren’t much of a reader, you can get the gist by reading the opening paragraphs and then scrolling down to the Pacific Legal Foundation mentioned in this thread of messages. But I would suggest the entire, well-researched article (as almost all are in High Country News) for a better overall understanding of the philosophy and strategies of the right-wing property rights movement.

Here on the coastside, we have experienced several years’ worth of “wise use” property rights jargon from the likes of Oscar Braun, George Muteff, and their associates. It helps to know where they are coming from when you read their opinions and claims to objectivity and when you see reference to legal issues from them.

Carl May

http://www.hcn.org/servlets/hcn.Article?article_id=17399

George: I’m glad you posted your initial link so that I could gain an understanding of what supporters of the proposed bill are thinking.  My limited imagination is frequently unable to encompass how anyone could be opposed to the conservation of our coast. 

What my comment asked above is that what Mr. Zumbrun described and what SB 1295 proposes are separated by degrees.  If there is an issue with how signatures are obtained, and someone can propose a better way, then by all means, propose it.  But the proposed SB seems to throw the baby out with the bathwater by removing the right to appeal by the CCC.

Barry:  I didn’t see you as repackaging Zumbrun, but rather you placed the Zumbrun remarks directly into this thread, rather than linked.  I also appreciate the discussions your site allows for, as I have read the hmbreview site’s comments and it’s all silly playground fighting, what with the name-calling and finger-pointing.  And the user names are relics of AOL 1996.  Silly.

Which is why I took exception to Greg’s name-calling, and particularly so, its historical and emotional context.  I think name-calling in these discussions is a waste of time and never allows people to hear each other out and, hopefully, reach solution/compromise.

It is not too late to express your opposition to SB 1295!
But hurry; Hearing Set for April 8th at 9:30 A.M.

To repeat, from the initial post, “it is always best if you use your own words.”

When the public must pay for appeals locally, then the public’s right to redress is limited or denied. That a short time limit is imposed locally, those who do not watch vigilantly, constantly in fear of local government obfuscating action, their redress is denied.

SB 1295 is the legal profession full employment act for those who wish to protect their rights and can afford it. The incorrect use of the Administrative CDP was an example, used for CUSD for Cunha School, of what can happen. Similar actions applied to other cases can result in not just the current development interest law suits but also from the resident side. 

I have always found Coastal Commission staff competent, helpful and reasonable - even on those occasions when there were areas of disagreement. The Coastal Commission appeal represents an outlet to mitigate local error without the deleterious legal action.

One can hope that Carole Migden, D-San Francisco Senate District 03, as a member of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, will understand our plight.

George,
Glad to see you back. I would have thought that you, above many others, would understand the value of a staff prepared appeal for those who might feel personally disenfranchised at a local level and the challenges to producing a successful individually produced appeal.


Ken Johnson

I disagree Ken.  I feel that if someone has an issue with a Project, they should be willing to put their money where there feelings are. 

Us “Developers” are forced to pay for every inch of the process, including the costs for delays in terms of time lost, construction costs, interest, and stress caused by unlimited rights of appeal. 

The CCC process should probably happen concurrently with the local approval process.  As to “local error”, that implies that the local Planners and LCP policies mean nothing, and are a waste of time, so why have them?  Why not just route all Projects to the CCC, for blanket approvals?  That would probably make the local agencies happy, because it costs them also when these appeals, spurious or otherwise, are filed.

As to having a staffer decide which appeals deserve attention, with pre-signed forms, give me a break.  That is the surest way for the system to be abused, and I have seen it done. 

Too many of the “local suspects” have friends in the staff department of the CCC, and are not shy about using them to further their agendas, again, I have seen it done.

It’s time for a Change

Greg Ward

Guess what, Greg. The right to petition the government is in the First Amendment of the Constitution—or are you one of those who thinks they can do better dictating to their fellow citizens than the law of the land we now live under?

Developers and builders should pay for every bit of new development, including all new infrastructure made necessary. The existing situation is already being paid for by existing users, so isn’t that eminently fair? You aren’t one of these “welfare developers” are you, wanting an infrastructure and services handout to make your profits greater?

An appeal to the Coastal Commission, if someone thinks it is necessary, cannot happen until the local government in charge of its LCP has made its decision, now can it? This, obviously, is because an appeal is based on a purported violation of the Coastal Act (as expressed through the local LCP) in the local government’s approval. No purported violation, no appeal, so the best thing a developer can do is follow the letter of the LCP and Coastal Act. But we know this is often not what is done, don’t we? Instead, the developer with the complicity of sympathetic local politicians during the initial approval, tries to play semantics with the definitions in the Coastal Act or tries to stretch the requirements in the LCP. Don’t do that, and the appeals would be decimated.

Of course you know the law you would tinker with well enough to know not everyone has legal standing to make an appeal. Which is why appeals by those who know the entire California coast, the Coastal Act, and the legal precedents now established through interpretations of the Coastal Act best, the Coastal Commissioners, themselves, and the expert staff are so important. The Coastal Commission and its staff exist to uphold the Coastal Act for the State of California, the people of California, and part of doing this is through appeals of faulty local approvals that are beyond the ken and capability of local citizens wishing to petition their government.

Your attempt to claim staff is somehow motivated to appeal doesn’t hold up. Coastal Commission staff, whether or not it is the few involved in possible appeals or the greater number working in other areas of expertise, is paid whether or not appeals are made. Are you angry that they can’t be paid off like local politicians or some of the politically appointed Coastal Commissioners, themselves? Look up the case of Commissioner Nathanson, a Willie Brown appointee, if you want a hum-dinger of an example of corruption favoring your arrogant side.

Why not route all projects to the CCC? Do you know the percentage of locally-approved projects statelong that is now appealed? So now you want to add the load of non-appealed projects to the Coastal Commission’s burden? Do you know how the budget of the CCC has been squeezed? Put two and two together, Greg. Automatically routing all coastal projects that must conform to local LCP’s and the Coastal Act to the Coastal Commission would multiply the Commissions workload. Think you have delays now? You have no idea how unhappy you would be if you got what you want. Hint: Governor Annihilator is currently proposing across the board cuts throughout state government. He ain’t about to multiply the Coastal Commission’s budget. Is efficiency at all important in the work you do? If so, think about what you are saying before shooting from the hip.

Finally, given your suggestion, you also seem to go against what would make local agencies and even your money-grubbing buddies happy. Seeking to take over local control of their local situation under the Coastal Act, many of them spent years jimmying an LCP to get the best local interpretation of the Coastal Act they could get for their mercenary desires. This was certainly the case with the city of Half Moon Bay, which passed on several drafts of LCP’s prepared for it until it got something it liked for the purpose of serving local special interests. Like all such delays, some of the time involved waiting for a stacked set of Coastal Commissioners through which they could squeeze approval. You will lose most of your friends in money-making if you push to throw away their current local control.

It always comes back to the same simple thing: don’t violate the Coastal Act and there will be no basis for appeal. Now, the Coastal Act is a weakening law shredded in many places, so objectionable development projects can, in fact, be pushed through. But if that is your strategy, you go into it with yours eyes open and have no cause for whining because government is not yet 100 percent corrupted.

Carl May

Right again Carl. Greg knows all about projects that violate the LCP, like this one:

http://talkabout.hmbreview.com/topic.php?t=587&c=1&d;=

Unfortunately, Greg’s clients’ ugly monster house in the historical HMB cottage district was not appealable to the Coastal Commission because the rules that govern those appeals are already extremely narrow.

Greg & friends want to narrow the appeal rules even further. Nothing would please them more than to eliminate the idea of Coastal Commission appeals altogether. That way, they could just concentrate on what they do best: manipulating local rube politicians to give them whatever they want.

<snip>Guess what, Greg. The right to petition the government is in the First Amendment of the Constitution—or are you one of those who thinks they can do better dictating to their fellow citizens than the law of the land we now live under?

In HMB, for example, the Public has 4 opportunities to object to a given Project before it is approved.  1. ARC. 2. The Planning Commission.  3. The City Council. 4.  CCC, or litigation.  I hardly think anyone’s first amendment rights are being violated.

I won’t take up space here refuting Carl’s arguments further, as they are all biased.

As for Kevin’s “ugly monster house in the historical HMB cottage district”, he and one other owner, and a boozy doctor were the only objecters to this project, and this type of rhetoric is why the process needs over-hauling.
Kevin is one of the “Usual Suspects” I have been refering to.  If he doesn’t get his way, the tantrums ensue.  He believes he knows better than anyone else how the LCP’s and ordinances should be interpreted, and has wasted more of HMB’s time than any other EX-commissioner in City history.  That’s why he’s EX.  He is an example of someone intimate with a couple of CCC staffers, and has promoted several appeals, most of which, as his objections to my “ugly monster house in the historical HMB cottage district”, have gone down in the flames they so richly deserved.  If anyone was disliked more, I would like to know who.

Nobody here wants the appeal process removed, rather, we want the playing field to be impartial, non-personal, non-partisan, non-agendized, and less time consuming.  Nobody on this side want to see uncontrolled growth, only sensible growth.

It’s time for a Change

Greg Ward

Comment 27
Wed, March 26, 2008 11:29pm
Carl May
All my comments

“In HMB, for example, the Public has 4 opportunities to object to a given Project before it is approved.  1. ARC. 2. The Planning Commission.  3. The City Council. 4.  CCC, or litigation.  I hardly think anyone’s first amendment rights are being violated.

“I won’t take up space here refuting Carl’s arguments further, as they are all biased.”

Put another way, when in doubt, get off point and punt.

Carl May

No Carl.  Sometimes you just get tired of the SOS.  This from the other scource:

Ducheny takes on errant commission staff
Sunday, March 02, 2008

The arrogance of the California Coastal Commission staff knows no bounds. So, hats off to Sen. Denise Ducheny, D-San Diego, for countering the staff’s audacious interpretations of state law.

After six months of effort, Ducheny has forced Coastal Commission Executive Director Peter Douglas to halt his staff’s abuse of a law that Ducheny authored four years ago.

When passed in 1976, the California Coastal Act required the commission to protect, encourage and, where feasible, provide affordable housing. Five years later, responding to public anger about the commission’s use of that authority, legislators assigned the regulation of affordable housing to local governments and their own coastal plans.

In 2003 the Legislature passed Coastal Act amendments authored by Ducheny to foster residential development, particularly affordable housing. The changes required local governments and the Coastal Commission to support development by approving the highest density their local zoning and state development laws allowed, unless substantial evidence showed unavoidable harm to coastal resources.

Omitting that exception in its report, the Coastal Commission staff advised that the commissioners oppose the bill unless amended to restore the commission’s “ability to require affordable housing as a component of large development projects” in the coastal zone. That didn’t happen. Yet the staff gleaned in the legislation bogus and self-serving authority to regulate affordable housing.

In September, Ducheny wrote Commission Chairman Pat Kruer to set the record straight. Writing to Douglas in January, Ducheny noted the staff’s continued distortion of her legislation. In February, Douglas finally acknowledged that the commission “has no authority to require local coastal governments or permit applicants to provide or maintain affordable housing.” He ordered the correction of current staff reports claiming otherwise.

The staff’s craftiness cost past applicants their projects, and the commission credibility. At some point commissioners must impose consequences, serious consequences, on such arrogant conduct.

SignonSanDiego.com - San Diego Union Tribune

Sen. Denise Ducheny (D-San Diego) is the one guilty of arrogant conduct here, trying to rewrite state-wide law for the benefit of some locals in her district, many of whom would make lots of money from less-regulated coastal development. Reminds me of Richard Pombo (R-Tracy) who got booted from U.S. Congress in 2006.

Great concept Greg: you deserve the justice that you are able to purchase - is that what you are asserting, Greg?

Greg wrote:

“I disagree Ken.  I feel that if someone has an issue with a Project, they should be willing to put their money where there feelings are. “

“As to having a staffer decide which appeals deserve attention, with pre-signed forms, give me a break.  That is the surest way for the system to be abused, and I have seen it done. “

Greg, please support your assertion above - if you can!


I think that Greg Ward provides the example of why it is important to send in your opposition to SB 1295! It is not too late, if you act now!

Ken Johnson

I’m sympathetic to the expense that an appeal represents for the builder. However, it is essential that the vetting process be as thorough as possible.

* The Coast is irreplaceable.

* Once something is built, it will never be unbuilt.

* Poorly planned projects create a precedent for similar projects.

* Local authorities are subject to pressures and they come and go like the tide.

Yes, this process adds to the cost of development.  And that cost is passed on to the ultimate owner. That is where these costs belong.

The point is Ken, that just because someone has an objection to a Project, doesn’t mean they should be able to hold up people’s lives for free.  If you feel strongly about it, be willing to pay for it.

As to my own personal experience, ask Kevin Lansing and Barbara Mauz about a certain well project that was to be a strict test well.  The entire County process was followed to the letter, public meetings onsite (no one showed) 3 public hearings, again, no one showed. No one appealed to the Planning Commission or BOS, and 1 day before the appeal period ran out, a CCC staffer filed an appeal because of an email.  And that’s only one…...

This reminds me of the ongoing arguments over Torte reform.  Something needs to change.  This Bill is a good start

Greg Ward is dispensing factually incorrect information, as usual. The CCC staff did not appeal his project. A private citizen, a resident of the MidCoast, who had submitted multiple written comments to the local hearing board (and was ignored) filed the appeal. The Coastal Commission later made a finding of substantial issue about the project.

I’m a conservative Republican that stands for private property rights. I used to think like George and Greg. Then I studied the Coastal Act, had an opportunity to speak before the commission and had an opportunity to work with commission staff.

Were all state agencies staffed by hardworking and dedicated personnel like the Coastal Commission, this state wouldn’t be in its current financial straits.

It is clear to me that the Commission does not capriciously stop development. Rather, they stop development that does not conform to state law, namely the Coastal Act. Unfortunately, due to political pressure, the Commission doesn’t stop every development that should be stopped.

In my view, competent developers can and do develop their property to the full extend allowed by the Coastal Act (and more if there is a “takings” issue involved).

I have no patience for anyone that thinks they should be allowed to skirt the law.

Greg wrote “I feel that if someone has an issue with a Project, they should be willing to put their money where there feelings are.”

Why should requesting that the law (zoning, LCP, Coastal Act) be followed be any different from requesting that any other law be followed?  Does the police department ask you to pay to enforce the law against somebody who robs you or who assaults you?

Appeal fees should be capped at a $5 paperwork submittal fee.  The County’s current appeal fee is downright punitive and arguably a denial of due process to those who can’t afford it.  It’s clearly intended primarily to strongly discourage appeals.

The fact that appeal fees exist at all just proves that most local governments are dominated by development interests.

Greg, are you having fun yet? With regard to coastal commission staff generated appeals, look no further than Saso Gale.
That appeal was generated by CCC staff simply because they could. The result was Saso’s lot is still vacant. All because he made the mistake of buying a piece of ground in an already developed neighborhood, that happened to abut Beachwood. Beachwood has been a contentious issue for the commission since 2000 (thanks to the HMB PC & CC of ‘99 & ‘oo, respectively.
Saso’s staff appeal, and subsequent outcome was politics, plain and simple. It stands as the poster child, for us, of why staff & commissioners should have no right to appeal, and it is my furvent hope that a majority of our legislature agrees.
OK, Greg, have at it, although for the life of me I don’t know why you would. So far, it would appear that nobody commenting is apt to change their opinion.

I’m sorry to hear that, George, because I haven’t given up trying to convince you and Greg.  ;->

Actually, I find the conversation interesting, and I think it’s a good idea for both sides to have their arguments challenged, regardless of whether anyone gets persuaded.

Isn’t that why we’re here?

As usual Leonard and I disagree on everything.  He feels that anybody with any beef at all should have a free ride to delay any project just because they have a bad case of gas.

If these appeals are not designed to stall a project, and have real merit, then there should be no objection to paying for it.

As for Lansing’s comment, and just for the sake of conversation, who put Barbara up to filing the appeal, and who was the Staffer that filed the pre-signed appeal, which I have a copy of.  I have the answer to both of those questions, need I go further???

And isn’t it interesting how certain people can send emails, unsigned, unconfirmed, and not show up at the hearings they are causing, and get away with it?  Kinda’ like filing a lawsuit, staying home cause you don’t have the gas money, and having the Judge plead your case for you for free.

It’s time for a Change (Barak Hussein Obama).....(:-)

Greg Ward

“As for Lansing’s comment, and just for the sake of conversation, who put Barbara up to filing the appeal, and who was the Staffer that filed the pre-signed appeal, which I have a copy of.  I have the answer to both of those questions, need I go further???”

Greg gets the horse-laugh of the week! As if anyone ever needed to put Barbara Mauz up to anything.

The “property rights” crowd likes to operate as if no one knows of the repeated defeats of their approaches to objecting to environmental regulations that are inconvenient for their money-making schemes. Like we don’t know that wealthy landowners and developers in the coastal counties of Southern California were among the largest contributors to the campaign against Prop. 20 before it passed. Or that their paid-for state legislators from Orange and San Diego counties have worked to soften and reverse environmental regulations in the coastal zone since 20’s passage.
Ducheny is in the long line of legislators (plus officials appointed to the Coastal Commission) serving money interests. (In the mid-1980’s, it was the capricious flip-flop of a Coastal Commissioner from Chula Vista that produced Commission approval of the Martini Creek version of the Devil’s Slide bypass and eventually forced those who wished to protect their natural heritage, resources, and communities into court for many years. Talk about wasting money never seems to get around to the huge amount of time and money we are forced to waste on that kind of issue.)

We are supposed to be so naive as to think someone gets something out of empty appeals. The majority of projects never appealed gives lie to that. We are supposed to think appeals, no matter who files them, are usually meritless and filed only to aggravate the destructionists. Yet all appeals are reviewed for having a substantive issue before they proceed for consideration. We are not supposed to know that the Coastal Commission lacks the staffing (thanks to budget restrictions sought by the developer crowd’s paid politicians and lobbyists in every budget go-around) to handle many appeals and,therefore, actually has a disincentive to pursue appeals.

We are supposed to be ignorant of the fact that the
Coastal Commission frequently compromises with the money-grubbers on both approvals and appeals, using tradeoffs between its always-present developer-favoring members and those more law-abiding and objective. (It’s not unlike San Mateo County, where relatively few property owners, developers, and builders are given equal status to everyone else.) We are not supposed to have the small amount of sophistication needed to know that seemingly trivial whines about appeals regarding
little bits of pavement or single wells or a slightly noncompliant house someone wants to build avoid the overarching concern about cumulative impacts. And when someone points out these empirical phenomena, they try to pass them off as conjecture and off-the-wall opinion.

This last point gets to the reason for digging out the truth for anyone who cares to consider it. No, Mr. Muteff, no one long involved in these issues is going to change their viewpoint. But the greatest number of people is almost
always to be found among those with a fresh interest and getting up to speed. They should not be abandoned to those with a singular financial motivation, and damn the effects on the lives of most of us.

Carl May

Greg seems to think that appeals are filed just to delay projects.  While I personally have filed very appeals (due to the excessive appeal fees), I can state that none of mine and none that I’m aware of were filed just to delay a project.  Every appeal that I know of was a legitimate gripe that the appellant felt had merit for stopping the project, not simply delaying it.  What good does it do to delay a project?  Why would anyone want to spend money just to annoy the applicant with a delay that won’t stop the project?  I suppose the reason that Greg thinks that appeals are just delaying tactics is that most Boards of Supervisors, including ours in San Mateo County, pretty much never saw a project they didn’t like and therefore virtually all appeals are denied at the BoS level.  If the law was always upheld, appeals wouldn’t look simply like delays.

Greg, are you going to answer the question in my 1:59 post?  I’ll repeat it here so that you don’t strain yourself scrolling back to find it:

Why should requesting that the law (zoning, LCP, Coastal Act) be followed be any different from requesting that any other law be followed?  Does the police department ask you to pay to enforce the law against somebody who robs you or who assaults you?

Apples and oranges Leonard.

<snip> Why should requesting that the law (zoning, LCP, Coastal Act) be followed be any different from requesting that any other law be followed?  Does the police department ask you to pay to enforce the law against somebody who robs you or who assaults you?

Because by the time the project hits the approval stage, we have gone through ALL of the zoning requirements, and have complied completely with the LCP requirements, etc. that the agencies enforce.  These plans are gone through with a very fine tooth comb, forwards and backwards, because Staff don’t want to waste time with appeals any more than we do, so extra effort is made to assure all the rules have been followed.  That’s your taxpayer dollars at work.  If an individual believes that the rules have not been followed, then they should be willing to pay for this belief.  Good enough for you?

As for Carl’s rant above, this answer above and prior posts are all I have the energy for tonight.

Greg

Greg’s lamented well project, PLN2005-00376:

http://www.co.sanmateo.ca.us/tm_bin/tmw_cmd.pl?tmw_cmd=StatusViewCase&shl_caseno=PLN2005-00376

Mauz’s letter of appeal:

From: “Nature Watch” <[email protected]>

To: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

CC: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Subject: My Letter re: PLN 2005-00376 (Zoning Hrg. Officer’s Hrg.)/Barbara Mauz

Date: Thu, 07 Jun 2007 10:07:00 +0000

June 7, 2007   - Via E-Mail -

Zoning Hearing Officer

San Mateo County Planning & Building

County Government Center

455 County Center - 2nd Floor

Redwood City, CA 94063

Re: PLN 2005-00376 (Ward, Sladek and Nerhan)

  APN: 048-310-230

Dear Zoning Hearing Officer,

Please make this letter a part of the Official County Public Record regarding PLN 2005-00376.

The proposed construction of a Domestic Water Well in PAD Zoned Land is an incompatible use; further, this project as described in the Staff Report states that the Domestic Well is to assess water quality and quantity for the POTENTIAL FUTURE APPLICATION(S) of single-family residential construction indicating that the well is the first step to a larger project that equates to piecemeal development which is illegal, as 15378 of the CEQA guidelines is the “whole of an action” where a project cannot legally be segmented into smaller pieces and then studied independently of one another. The related larger project involved in this application does not qualify for the categorical exemption 15304 due to exceptions stated in 15300.2c (significant effect) and 15300.2d (scenic highways).

With regards to the actual larger project, please be reminded that County voters in 1986 mandated and enacted Measure A, which included the key provision of the LCP which would require a County-wide vote to:

(a) extend urban services outside the urban boundary,

(b) the conversion of prime soils to another use,

(c) allow a change in intensity of use of the land, or

(d) rezone the lands for any of the above

The County’s recommendation of approval of a Coastal Development Permit and Planned Agricultural District Permit for PLN 2005-00376 is inconsistent with the following:

LUP Policy 1.8 states:

Allow new development (as defined in Section 30106 of the California Coastal Act of 1976) in rural areas only if it is demonstrated that it will not:

(1) have significant adverse impacts, either individually or cumulatively, on coastal resources and (2) diminish the ability to keep all prime agricultural land and other land suitable for agriculture (as defined in the Agriculture Component) in agricultural production. [Emphasis added.]

LUP Policy 5.10:

a. Prohibits the conversion of lands suitable for agriculture within a parcel to conditionally permitted uses unless all of the following can be demonstrated:

(1) All agriculturally unsuitable lands on the parcel have been developed or determined to be undevelopable; (2) Continued or renewed agricultural use of the soils is not feasible as defined by Section 30108 of the Coastal Act; (3) Clearly defined buffer areas are developed between agricultural and non-agricultural uses; (4) The productivity of any ADJACENT agricultural lands is not diminished; (5) Public Service and facility expansions and permitted uses do not impair agricultural viability, including by increased assessment costs or degraded air and water quality. [Emphasis added.]

Zoning Regulation Section 6350 - Purpose of the Planned Agricultural District (PAD)

The purpose of the Planned Agricultural District is to: (1) preserve and foster existing and potential agricultural operations in San Mateo County in order to keep the maximum amount of prime agricultural land and all other lands suitable for agriculture in agricultural production, and (2) minimize conflicts between agricultural and non-agricultural land uses by employing all of the following techniques:

(a) establishing STABLE BOUNDARIES SEPARATING Urban and Rural Areas and, when necessary, clearly defined buffer areas.

(b) limiting conversions of agricultural lands around the periphery of urban areas to lands where the viability of existing agricultural use has already been severely limited by conflicts with urban uses, and where the conversion of such land would complete a logical and viable neighborhood and contribute to the establishment of a STABLE LIMIT TO URBAN DEVELOPMENT.

(c) developing available lands not suitable for agriculture before converting agricultural lands,

(d) assuring that public service and facility expansions and non-agricultural development do not impair agricultural viability, either through increased assessment costs or degraded air and water quality and,

(e) assuring that all divisions of prime agricultural land - except those stated in (b) and all adjacent development does not diminish the productivity of prime agricultural lands and other land suitable for agriculture. [Emphasis added.]

The CEQA exception of 15300.2d would also apply here as the actual larger project (potential future application(s) of single-family residential construction) could negatively impact the visual character of the scenic resources——and could also violate LCP Policy 8.5 which requires that new development be located where it is least visible from State and County Scenic Roads, least likely to significantly impact views from public viewpoints, and best preserves the visual and open space qualities of the area.

In conclusion, the creation of a domestic well in Planned Agricultural District land that is intended to support agricultural uses is incompatible; overall, the creation of domestic wells is a great concern because every one that is allowed is a depletion of this Coastside’s very limited water supply.

Very truly yours,

Barbara K. Mauz

P.O. Box 1284

El Granada, CA 94018

cc: California Coastal Commission

Greg says,

These plans are gone through with a very fine tooth comb, forwards and backwards, because Staff don’t want to waste time with appeals any more than we do, so extra effort is made to assure all the rules have been followed. “

That sounds like an important reason not to mess with the appeals process.

Greg Ward writes:
“...and who was the Staffer that filed the pre-signed appeal, which I have a copy of?”

Greg, get a clue. That piece of paper you have a “copy of” is the Notification of Appeal which the CCC staff is required by law to send out whenever any private citizen files an appeal.

Maybe you should do a little homework before spouting off on a process that you obviously don’t know much about.

You guys are going to nit-pick me to death, but I should expect it.

Point: No one is saying eleminate the appeals process, Barry.  There have been projects that I have thought needed appealing.  I am saying that the process should be more demanding on the person(s) doing the appeals, so that the number of nonsense appeals drops.  The process needs to be messed with.  There needs to be fairness to all sides. 

Point: The above well process was approved by the County with NO appeals, period, and was conditioned on the full agreement that any further development would be fully scrutinized, under CEQA, the LCP, and all other rules that applied, including biotic, hydrology, road studies, ad infinitum. It was only a TEST well, not the second coming of Christ.  And a Staffer did handle the appeal.  Enough of this, as far as I know, this well thing is dead on arrival, and not worth any more of my time discussing this case, it was just and example that has been, as usual, blown up, all out of proportion.
Greg

Kevin, please keep you tone civil.

Greg, Senator Ducheny’s bill would eliminate the ability of the Coastal Commission to appeal coastal development permits granted by local governments. Plus, it sounds like you’d also favor greater restrictions on appeals at the local level as well.

Rather than saying favoring greater restrictions at the local level, I believe that the appeals process at all levels needs some method of assuring that appeals that will take up valuable time and resources, be more stringently vetted.  Too much time is wasted on spurious appeals, that will be denied anyway.  There should be some criterion under which an appeal could be filed, some specific problem rather than “I object, this doesn’t follow the LCP”, or “I think there’s a wetlands out there somewhere, even though no one has declared it”.  Not everyone out there is qualified to interpret the law.  Not eveyone out there is a biologist or engineer.  That’s what we pay Staffers and professionals for.
Greg

Comment 48
Fri, March 28, 2008 11:44pm
Carl May
All my comments

Yeah, right, so that is one reasson why I posted Mauz’s appeal letter. It is obviously to the point and specific as to the violations alleged.

So who would you have as this great arbiter of appeals that would conform to the wishes of developers?

By the way, Greg, my academic training is as a biologist. Degree in that from a reputable university. Post-degree field research. Worked for one of the top few recognized population biologists dealing with human populations. Almost four decades of working on college-level educational materials in the area, continuing to present. Most recently provided photographic illustrations for a new college ecology text from one of the top few college science publishers in the U.S. Not at all unusual among the people I know concerned with environmental issues. You might be surprised at the credentials of the people you consider to be unworthy commentators.

Carl May

“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion - no one is entitled to their own facts”!

Greg, when Kevin Lansing and Carl May clearly refuted factually your spurious claims, that can hardly be called “nit-pick me to death” by anyone reasonable! You wrote repeatedly, “I have seen it done”, but clearly ‘saw’ nothing and when asked to substantiate, responded only with further unsubstantiated innuendo.

George Muteff wrote, “With regard to coastal commission staff generated appeals, look no further than Saso Gale.” Those who don’t remember the case can read the Review article: “HMB city officials caravan to confront Coastal Commission” (emphasis added). Mayor Naomi Patridge, Vice Mayor Bonnie McClung and Planning Commissioner Tom Roman went there to confront the Coastal Commission with foreseeable results—they were cut off at the knees. I think Tom Roman—Matter of Opinion final sentence understatedly summed it up well: “we will need better communication channels with the Coastal Commission staff on similar future permits in order to understand its real concerns.”

George, I do agree with the part of your statement that the “subsequent outcome was politics, plain and simple.” It was political theatre here in Half Moon Bay for a limited local audience where Mr. Saso Gale was apparently the victim of being told in Half Moon Bay that the proposed development was consistent with State Law.


Ken Johnson

Ken you are exactly right about what happened with Mr. Gale’s project.

Some additional little known details: When the project came before the HMB Planning Commission in 2006, the plans submitted by Mr. Gale did in fact conform to the 100 foot setback from wetlands. We were set to approve it.

But then Planning Commissioner Tom Roman took it upon himself to convince Mr. Gale to go back to the original non-conforming plans that the City had denied a year earlier. I was sitting right there when this happened.

Tom Roman did a tremendous disservice to Mr. Gale and I would hope he’s chipping in for Mr. Gale’s many legal expenses (but I doubt it).

If Mr. Gale had ignored Tom Roman (appointed by Marina Fraser), then Gale would be living in his house on Terrace Avenue right now.

A good example of why we need an appeals process can be found in a project that will be reviewed the Commission April 11th, namely item F13b (near bottom of page):

<http://www.coastal.ca.gov/mtgcurr.html >

This project clearly violates several aspects of the LCP. Both the local planning department and the county Board of Supervisors knew it. They approved the project and rejected all appeals anyway. Why? One reason is because the applicant is litigious and they would rather he sue the Coastal Commission than them.

Were it not for a few diligent local coastal activists, the only chance at appeal would have been the type Ducheny is attempting to eliminate.

If local governments and bureaucracies did their jobs and enforced the LCP, we could do away with the type of appeal that Ducheny wants to eliminate. But they don’t, so we still must allow commissioners to appeal projects in these cases.

Francis,

I believe that Carole Migden is your State Senator who is a member of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee which has Hearing Set for April 8th at 9:30 A.M. on SB 1295.

Of course, she is awfully busy with the June 2008 State Senate primary right around the corner.


Stop SB 1295!

Ken Johnson

I’ve contacted her and the competition for her senate seat, namely Assemblymember Mark Leno and former Assemblymember Joe Nation.

Nothing like healthy political competition! Too bad the California Republicans don’t know how to play!

Thanks, Ken, already did that.

I encourage folks here to contact their representatives in Sacramento to ask that they reject the Governor’s proposed budget cuts to the Coastal Commission. The Coastal Commission is already chronically understaffed, and a 10% cut will require the loss of 17 positions. This will leave the Commission unable to fulfill its legislative mandate.

State Assemlymember Noreen Evans should also be contacted. She is on the subcommitted that will be hearing the proposed CCC budget on April 2nd. (Tomorrow!)

BTW, an adequately staffed Coastal Commission benefits developers as well as the general public. Mr. Ward may not realize this, but staff is available to discuss his project before an application for a CDP is submitted. That is an extremely useful resource for folks trying to develop within California’s Coastal Zone. An adequately staffed commission also speeds the review process once a permit application is submitted.

YEEHAAA! We Won One!
If you didn’t hear: SB 1295 Failed in Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee!
Failed passage in committee. 8 April 2008

(AYES   3. NOES   5.)  (FAIL)

  **** - NOES

Migden   Steinberg   Kehoe   Kuehl   Machado

  **** - AYES

Margett   Cogdill   Hollingsworth

Not totally killed, ‘Reconsideration granted.’

A little recent history:
Apr. 2   From committee with author’s amendments.  Read second time.
  Amended.  Re-referred to Com. on N.R. & W.

The bill was amended, ‘toned down’, from original outrageous changes.

From BILL ANALYSIS:

ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT
Councilmember Jerome Kern from the City of Oceanside supports
the bill based on his view that the use of blank appeals forms
are mis-used by staff to generate appeals to the CCC. 

In this view, he is joined by
Thomas Roman, the chair of the Half Moon
Bay Planning Commission
, in his individual capacity, although
the two differ with regard to the use of these forms.
Mr. Roman believes that appeals are generated by CCC staff, not members of
the Commission, and that commissioners sign the appeals after
they are written by the CCC staff (apparently he does not
believe they are pre-signed.)”

ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION
      “The opposition to this measure, generated in part by email and
      fax alerts from coastal advocacy organizations, is, by volume, 
      the largest in memory.”

SUPPORT
      City of Oceanside
      2 Individuals
       
OPPOSITION
      Amigos de Bolsa Chica
      Audubon California
      Bolsa Chica Land Trust
      California Coastal Protection Network
      California Coastkeeper Alliance
      California League of Conservation Voters
      California Native Plants Society
      City of Huntington Beach
      Coastwalk
      Committee for Green Foothills
      Defenders of Wildlife
      Environmental Commons
      Heal the Bay
      Marin Conservation League
      Natural Resources Defense Council
      Planning and Conservation League
      San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy
      Save the Waves Coalition
      Sierra Club California
      South Laguna Civic Association
      Supervisor Pam Slater-Price
      Surfrider Foundation
      The Humane Society of the United States
      Trust for Public Land
      Village Laguna
      Wild Heritage Planners
2764 Individuals

Regards,
Ken Johnson

What Happy News this morning!  Thank you Ken for the post - I had not yet heard this.  :D

Anneliese,

Glad to brighten your day.

OTOH, embarrassing for Thomas Roman to be singled out for personal derision in the impartial Official State “BILL ANALYSIS” as the Chair of the Half Moon Bay Planning Commission!

I can’t remember the last time that an individual was singled out in this way at a State level. It was as if they were laughing at him for claiming the ‘Earth was Flat’.

I don’t know him well personally, but seems like an OK guy.

Ken Johnson