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Seven Jockeying for Appointment to Coastal Commission

February 15, 1987|TERRY SPENCER | Staff Writer

One year after jockeying and infighting began among South Bay officials interested in a seat on the state's Coastal Commission, the Senate Rules Committee is only slightly closer to selecting someone for the post.

Redondo Beach Mayor Barbara J. Doerr and Councilman Ron Cawdrey have each been nominated for the seat, which represents Los Angeles and Orange counties on the 12-member commission, as have three officials from Orange County.

Two Other Officials

At least two other South Bay officials say they want to be considered for nomination. Gilbert Saldana, an Avalon councilman, and Etta Simpson, a Hermosa Beach councilwoman, each said that members of the Rules Committee have indicated an interest in them.

Environmental groups say the seat is crucial if they are to turn back what they see as a tide of pro-development sentiment on the commission, which is charged with balancing the need to protect the coastline with the needs of developers.

"This seat could at least be a tie vote on some tough environmental questions, which would mean a denial of approval," said Paula Carrell, legislative representative for the Sierra Club. Both she and Ann Notthoff of the Natural Resources Defense Fund said they consider seven of the commissioners to be anti-environment, but each hopes that on controversial questions such as offshore drilling their groups could sway at least one of them commissioners to their side.

The current vacancy arose when Baldwin Park Councilman Leo King's term expired in January, 1986. King, who was opposed by the environmental groups, asked the Rules Committee for reappointment and was allowed to continue in the post for a period of time. Late in January, however, the committee rejected his renomination in a 2-2 vote, effectively removing him from the commission.

Power of Appointment

The committee, the governor and the Speaker of the Assembly are each allowed four appointments to the commission. Each member must be an elected local official nominated by the county boards of supervisors or other agencies, such as the League of Cities.

A spokesman for Rules Committee Chairman David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles) said the committee has delayed a decision to give local agencies time to finish making nominations.

"I don't think it's taking that much time compared to other things in this world," said Bob Forsythe, Roberti's press secretary. He said he could not speculate on when a new commissioner might be appointed.

The potential nominees all believe they should get the job.

"The experiences that I have had as the mayor of a coastal city have made me sensitive to issues facing coastal cities," Doerr said in an interview last week. She said environmental issues are what first brought her into local politics.

'Familiar With Act'

"I'm familiar with the Coastal Act (which established the commission) and I've studied it carefully," Doerr said. She said the commission spends too much time "enforcing regulations for regulations' sake," but does not spend enough time "enforcing the broad goals that were behind the original resolution.

"I think that I would provide balance by representing cities and by protecting our great resources."

Cawdrey said he favored passage of the Coastal Act and walked precincts for it when it was on the ballot.

"I've lived on the coast my whole life and some things were going on back then with the coast that just weren't right," Cawdrey said. He said he is against offshore oil drilling, especially drilling platforms.

"If one of them breaks loose it would raise so much havoc," Cawdrey said. "A lot of coastal businesses would have to close up for quite a while."

Saldana, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress last year, said he is being considered by the committee because he is moderate on the issues.

"I think that one of the reasons I am being considered is that I am an individual who can deal with both sides--environmentalists and developers," Saldana said. "I think it's important to control development but not stagnate it. If they're looking for someone to appeal to both sides, that would be me."

Outspoken Opponent

Simpson, who is a member of several environmental groups, is an outspoken opponent of offshore oil drilling.

"I have an environmental record from when I first moved here in 1954," Simpson said. "In Hermosa Beach at the time, we had . . . a problem with major oil companies and their offshore drilling. It took a while, but we were eventually able to stop that."

She said she is concerned about other environmental questions. "Coastal access is an extremely important issue," Simpson said.

Neither Simpson nor Saldana have been formally nominated to the committee, and no South Bay candidate has been able to gain the endorsement of a state environmental group. Most have endorsed Peter Green, a Huntington Beach councilman.

The other candidates from Orange County are Cypress Mayor John Kanel and Newport Beach Councilwoman Ruthevlyn Plummer.

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