REDONDO BEACH — Mayor Barbara Doerr, the Redondo Beach delegate to the Los Angeles County City Selection Committee, hopes to be nominated by that committee for a seat on the state Coastal Commission, but she won't even be able to vote for herself when the committee meets today to consider candidates for the post.
Doerr was instructed by her own City Council this week to vote for Baldwin Park Councilman Leo King, the incumbent commissioner whom Doerr hopes to replace.
Should King drop out of the running, the council directed Doerr to vote for Redondo Beach Councilman Jack Chapman, who wasn't even a candidate for the commission until Councilman Archie Snow suggested Chapman's candidacy during the council meeting.
The 12-member commission, which the Deukmejian administration has unsuccessfully sought to abolish, serves as a watchdog agency for the state's 1,100-mile coastline. Under the state Coastal Act, the commissioners are charged with protecting coastal resources, primarily by overseeing local government decisions that affect the coastline.
The council's action on Tuesday night is the most recent evidence of increasingly nasty political infighting at City Hall, which has repeatedly pitted Doerr against the council--unofficially led by Snow--on appointments to city boards and city representation at county and regional organizations.
Last summer, for example, the council voted to remove Doerr as delegate to the Los Angeles County Division of the League of California Cities and replaced her with Chapman, a building zoning coordinator for the county who was elected to the council last May, defeating City Treasurer Alice DeLong, a longtime friend and ally of the mayor.
The council's decision not to endorse Doerr's bid for the Coastal Commission strikes at the heart of the mayor's political beliefs and points to a longstanding division between her and a majority of the council on coastal issues.
Doerr first got involved in city politics in the mid-1970s because of her concern that King Harbor and the city's oceanfront neighborhoods were being overrun by high-density commercial and residential development. Since becoming mayor in 1981, she has been an outspoken critic of new development in those areas and has worked--in large part unsuccessfully--to block several projects in and around the harbor.
The council majority has rarely supported her coastal endeavors and, in fact, usually has worked to defeat them. Said Councilman Ron Cawdrey to the mayor at this week's council meeting: "I don't happen to see eye to eye with your position on coastal issues."
Councilwoman Marcia Martin was alone in supporting Doerr's bid this week, but she did so only after criticizing the mayor and her fellow council members for "bickering, fighting and back-stabbing."
"I am quite frankly tired of the fact (that) nobody supports anybody," she said. "I am not going to be a part of it any more, so I am going to support everybody."
The council's decision to back King came after several council members criticized Doerr for seeking the Coastal Commission post without first consulting with them. Cawdrey said he first heard about Doerr's bid from a friend on the Torrance City Council, which last week voted to support Doerr for King's seat.
Doerr sent letters last month to every city in the county--excluding her own--asking for support at today's meeting of the City Selection Committee. The committee, which consists of the mayors of all 84 cities in Los Angeles County, will nominate two candidates for the Coastal Commission seat, according to Carl Classen, Southern California Manager for the League of California Cities.
King's seat, one of 12 on the commission, must be filled by an elected representative from Los Angeles or Orange county, according to state law. At least two candidates must be nominated by the each of the boards of supervisors and the city selection committees in both counties. The Senate rules committee, headed by Sen. David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles), then makes the appointment to the two-year post.
King, who has served for two terms and is now vice-chairman of the commission, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday that he wants to be reappointed. Both King and commission chairman Michael Wornum of Marin County, however, have been targeted for defeat by a coalition of environmental groups for defeat.
Ann Notthoff, planner with the Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco, said environmentalists are eager to see King replaced because of what they consider his poor record on environmental issues. In 1985, King voted "against the environment" 80% of the time, according to ratings kept by the defense council.
Notthoff said King "is pretty close to the bottom" of those commissioners who were not appointed by Deukmejian. The governor, the speaker of the assembly and the senate rules committee each appoints four members to the panel.