The California Coastal Commission’s voting record: not so activist?


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To hear the fixers and property rights activists tell it, the California Coastal Commission is a ferociously activist agency that terrorizes homeowners and developers alike along the state’s famous coastline. Its dozen commissioners have the power to determine the fate of everything from developing a new golf course to expanding the garage of any home in the coastal zone. But is it so tough?

Not according to the self-avowed Coast Huggers, who keep tabs on key votes. The Sierra Club activists and others who follow the commission’s business say the commissioners voted in favor of protecting the coast only 44% of the time during 26 key votes in 2007. Of course, such a tally is a bit subjective. But the vote analysis has been done for decades by the same coastal activists, who point out that today’s batch of appointees are far less likely to hold back development in the name of the Coastal Act than most of their predecessors in the last 20 years.


‘The chart underscores the dismal failure of Gov. Schwarzenegger and Assembly Speaker [Fabian] Nunez to walk the talk,’ said Mark Massara, a Sierra Club lawyer who has dogged the commission for years. ‘Their administrations have been characterized by speechmaking and rhetoric on the environment, while their commissioners’ votes tend toward coastal development and coastal disfigurement.’

-- Kenneth R. Weiss