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California Coastal Commission 2010 Voting Record and 2011 Outlook

June 17 2011 | Legal,
by Angela Howe

This week, Surfrider Foundation, along with our partners at Sierra Club, California Coastkeeper Alliance, League for Coastal Protection, California Coastal Protection Network, and Coastwalk California released the 2010 Coastal Commission Voting Chart. The Conservation Voting Chart tracks the voting record of the members of the California Coastal Commission and provides critical insight into Commissioner performance relating to its impact on natural coastal resources and their potential to set important statewide precedents. This year's Chart reports on the 21 most important environmental votes of the year in front of the Coastal Commission.

Commissioner Esther Sanchez, an Oceanside City Councilmember representing San Diego County, scored the highest amongst all of the Commissioners, with a Conservation Voting Score of 90%, up from her 2009 score of 75%. Her score also helped the Assembly appointments as a whole, surpass the scores of the Senate Rules Committee and the Governor's appointments to the Commission. The overall score of the Coastal Commission for 2010 was 61% pro-conservation voting. This score is down from the 66% achieved in 2009. However, the Commission is still on the higher side of their 23-year average score of 51%.

Key votes reported in the 2010 Chart include the Dana Point Strands Beach Access battle that eventually lead to litigation with the City of Dana Point, where the Commissioners voted unanimously to protect California citizens' beach access interests. There are also instances reported where the Commission failed to protect the coast, such as the Carlsbad Desalination Plant permit revocation request that was denied by the Commissioners despite intentional fraudulent information. 

The story of the Commission continues in 2011, including many new appointments. Six of the twelve voting members have been added to the Commission in the past six months. This change in composition of the Commission leads to more representation on the South Central Coast, including Commissioner Brian Brennan from Ventura, Dayna Bochco from Los Angeles, Wendy Mitchell from Los Angeles, and Jana Zimmer from Santa Barbara. Other new members include electeds Steven Kinsey from Marin and Martha McClure from Del Norte County.

These new Commissioners seem to possess saavy in Sacramento as well as Los Angeles politics. Overall, it looks like this will be a promising set of Commissioners, and Surfrider Foundation is hopeful that they will stand strong for coastal protection.

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