SACRAMENTO — The Senate Rules Committee has appointed Burbank Councilwoman Mary Lou Howard to the 12-member state Coastal Commission.
The committee announced its decision Thursday after a brief, closed-door meeting off the Senate floor, ending six months of haggling over the appointment that had been sought by at least seven other city council members in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Howard, 49, will fill the vacancy left by Leo King, a former Baldwin Park city councilman, who was not reappointed in January. He had been targeted for removal by conservation organizations.
As Howard's alternate, the committee named Jacqueline Rynerson, vice mayor of Lakewood.
Sierra Club Candidates
The Sierra Club had supported Rynerson and Huntington Beach City Councilman Peter Green as their candidates for the commission.
Last December, the committee split 2 to 2 with one abstention over retaining King or naming Green to replace him.
Among others whose names surfaced as potential appointees were John Kanel, a Cypress city councilman; Mayor Barbara J. Doerr of Redondo Beach; Ruthelyn Plummer, a Newport Beach city councilwoman; Ron Cawdrey, a Redondo Beach city councilman; Loretta Thompson-Glickman, a Pasadena director, and Etta Simpson, a Hermosa Beach councilwoman.
Paula Carrell, a Sierra Club lobbyist, said that Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles), who is chairman of the Rules Committee, had assured the group that the committee would name a candidate with environmental credentials. Robert Forsyth, Roberti's press secretary, described Howard as an environmentalist.
But Carrell said Howard "doesn't have a record on environmental issues that we could measure." As a result, she said, "we will wait and see and hope that he (Roberti) is right."
Howard said that Roberti had asked her to seek the appointment. Roberti represents Burbank and has known Howard, a Democrat, for many years. Howard said she also drew support from Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, a Republican.
Howard suggested that the Sierra Club supported Green and Rynerson because they were unfamiliar with her background. "I'm sure they're not going to be disappointed. I'm not anyone's pawn or lackey. I'm very independent," Howard said in a telephone interview.
"Just because I'm not familiar with the Coastal Act doesn't mean I won't make a good commissioner," she said, adding that she believes she will quickly learn how the commission operates.
"I am an environmentalist," she said.
The Coastal Act directs the commission to balance development interests and protection of the coast while it reviews coastal development permits. Appointments are split among the Rules Committee, Gov. George Deukmemjian and Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco).
The law requires that one of the Rules Committee's appointments be an elected local official in Orange or Los Angeles counties.
Members of the Coastal Commission are paid a per diem and necessary expenses.