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Coastal Panel Member Fired

July 21, 1987

The editorial, "Coastal Outrage," (July 9) in which The Times likens events at the Coastal Commission hearing on the Occidental drilling project to Pearl Harbor Day, strikes me as disingenuous.

The Times assumed that the Senate Rules Committee suddenly fired commissioner Contreras because it was assumed he would vote in favor of the Occidental plan. Other sources say that Contreras continued to advertise his support of the project prior to the hearing, in spite of repeated admonitions, which suggest that his mind was made up, or made up for him, before bothering to hear any of the arguments in public.

What was really a "blatant and arrogant display of political power" was the ruling by the commission itself, the so-called "last line of defense against any number of outrages that can be inflicted on one of California's most precious natural assets," to paraphrase your indignant editorial, in direct contradiction of its mandate.

They voted to allow exploratory oil drilling at the foot of a landslide across from a popular beach, in opposition to objections from a majority of the city and its representatives, and against their own staff recommendations, with few questions and zero debate.

I found it revealing that one of The Times' objections to the second "sneak attack" (the closure of the agency's Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara offices), was that "approval of new development is bound to be delayed."

That this totally inappropriate new development was not delayed, nor denied, is the real coastal outrage.

JAN HAAS

Pacific Palisades

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