Los Angeles television producer and environmental activist Dayna Bochco was appointed Wednesday to the California Coastal Commission, replacing longtime commissioner and outspoken conservationist Sara Wan on the influential panel.
Wan had served for 15 years and was viewed as the most consistent — and hard-line — environmentalist on the board, once even spreading out a beach towel in defiance of security guards at Malibu's Broad Beach to protest public access restrictions.
She was, however, an irritant to developers for her routine opposition to projects on environmental grounds and her aggressive advocacy of coastal protections. Wan, a longtime Malibu activist, also had riled the state Democratic Party leadership earlier this year with her unexpected election as the commission's chairwoman.
In a Jan. 13 letter, California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton wrote Wan that he believed she had "screwed" another candidate out of the position. "You should clearly be ashamed of yourself," he wrote.
Reached by e-mail, Wan declined to discuss her departure. Her husband, Larry Wan, said by phone that "she's looking forward to a new phase in life."
On Wednesday, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) announced the change in leadership by expressing gratitude for Wan's years of service and welcoming Bochco to the commission, which wields broad regulatory power over development along the state's 1,100 miles of coastline.
Conservation groups praised Bochco, calling her an advocate for the environment who has fought for marine life protections and worked to battle storm-water pollution, marine debris and climate change.
Boccho "will be a superb Coastal Commissioner because she deeply cares about protecting our coast," said Heal the Bay President Mark Gold. Still, he added, "Dayna has some big shoes to fill. Sara was the best coastal commissioner California ever had."
Bochco runs a production company with her husband, well-known Hollywood producer Steven Bochco, who has developed shows such as "NYPD Blue," "L.A. Law" and "Doogie Howser, M.D." She is a board member of Heal the Bay and sits on the Natural Resources Defense Council's Southern California Leadership Council.
Environmental groups said they expected that Bochco's views concerning projects along the coast would be largely in line with her predecessor's.
Bochco worked three years ago to defeat a proposal to extend the 241 toll road through southern Orange County, one of the most contentious projects in the panel's history, and she campaigned in 2006 for the passage of the state's landmark global-warming law.
"I have been impressed with her from the very beginning as someone who is smart, strategic, focused and committed to environmental values," said Joel Reynolds, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Southern California program.
The appointments are part of a substantial turnover at the commission, which has seen six of its 12 voting members replaced since December. The panel is selected by the governor, the Senate Rules Committee and the speaker of the Assembly, and is made up of six elected officials and six members of the public.
Also appointed to a four-year term on the commission by the Senate Rules Committee was Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey, who replaces San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi.