Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Coastal Panel Needs Change Now

Bustamante should avoid delay in seating productive members

November 13, 1996

Assembly Speaker-designate Cruz Bustamante (D-Fresno) said last week that he plans to move slowly in making new appointments to the politicized state Coastal Commission. Bustamante no doubt has his priorities, but in this case he should reconsider. Important issues are coming before the panel immediately. His choices can make a difference.

Bustamante, who takes over as speaker Dec. 2, will appoint four of the 12 members of the commission, which is responsible for enforcing California's landmark coastal protection laws. With the Assembly reverting to Democratic control following last week's election, outgoing Speaker Curt Pringle's appointees surely will be shown the door.

Their removal and replacement can come none too soon. Two of Pringle's picks, Arnold Steinberg and Patricia Randa, had fought commission rulings when they built homes in the Santa Monica Mountains before they were named to the body. They took their seats last May voicing strong antipathy toward the commission and its efforts to provide public access to the coast, a goal consistent with Proposition 20, the coastal initiative that voters passed in 1972. The brief tenure of Steinberg, Randa and the GOP majority on the commission has been tumultuous and unproductive. Last summer, the Republicans tried to oust Peter Douglas, the panel's longtime director. Efforts to force staff members to take an oath of loyalty to the commissioners and to conduct a management audit have further polarized the agency.

Meanwhile, substantive issues await resolution. Today the panel may decide on Southern California Edison's request to scale down its restoration plan for the wetlands and reefs near the San Onofre nuclear power plant. In coming months, it will make key decisions affecting development of the coast near San Simeon and the Monterey Dunes along the central coast. And still unresolved is the matter of adequate funding to preserve the public's right of access all along the coastline.

These and other issues deserve constructive attention, not more polemics. Bustamante ought to move quickly to appoint people who understand that their responsibility on the commission would be to the public, not themselves.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|