A state appeals court recently ruled that California's Coastal Commission is unconstitutional (Jan. 1). This past September, I drove the entire length of California's coastline from the Tijuana River estuary to Pelican State Beach north of Crescent City. I enjoyed the public access and manicured beaches in Venice and Malibu. Rigs on the horizon and tank farms tucked in the dunes near Santa Barbara reminded me that oil extraction can coexist with other uses of the coast, though the relationship is not always easy. Three miles north of San Simeon, a thriving elephant seal colony lies within sight of the coastal highway. Hundreds of drivers pull over every day to watch and learn about marine mammals at this scenic, protected beach. Near San Francisco, city dwellers enjoy miles and miles of undeveloped, carefully conserved shoreline.
California's coast is a priceless resource enjoyed by all. The Coastal Commission has championed public access, environmental protection and economic development for all the people, not just the few who can afford the high cost of coastal real estate. The governor, the Legislature and the press will digest the court decision. If the actions that result are informed by the Coastal Commission's legacy of conservation for the future and for all, then I am sure that reason will prevail.
Charles A. Bookman