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writing for godot

California Coastline: Letter to Jerry Brown

Written by alan pierpoint   
Wednesday, 27 January 2016 11:50

The Honorable Jerry Brown
Governor, State of California
State Capitol
First Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Governor Brown:

Many times over the years while driving or hiking or biking along California’s coastline, I have composed this letter in my head. I have so far not thought it necessary to write it down because of the knowledge that, forty years ago, a forward-looking governor signed into law the act that created the Coastal Commission, and that the Commission took seriously its mandate to preserve our state’s greatest natural resource for the enjoyment of all Californians, now and in the future. Knowing that you had returned to lead our state government gave further security, for me and for like-minded Californians, that our beaches and bluffs and scenic vistas would be protected from development.

But write, I must.

The news is out that the independence of the Commission has come under attack by development interests and by some of the Commissioners, who are pulling for the firing of Charles Lester, the executive director of the Commission’s staff. The reasons given to the public for firing Lester are so vague as to suggest the word “bogus.” It looks like a directed attack on the independence of the staff, whose findings and recommendations are decisive in holding the line against the desecration of this precious common resource. This news is certainly not surprising. Such attacks are inevitable where temptations for profits are so high. What’s disturbing is the apparent fact (reported in today’s Times by former Commissioner Steve Blank) that “. . . the cabal of commissioners pushing to remove Lester are appointees of Gov. Jerry Brown,” and that
“. . . neither Brown nor John Laird, California’s secretary for Natural Resources, have stepped up to defend the independence of the commission under the leadership of its executive director.”

Have you forgotten the reasons for your earlier battle to save our coastline? Perhaps you need to get out more. May I suggest that you take the Coast Starlight south between Gaviota and Santa Barbara and behold the miracle of this still pristine stretch of coastline, so close to Los Angeles, unmarred by commercial development and interrupted only by a few state beaches that have served the recreational needs of literally millions of people during the intervening years. This is an accomplishment that you, and the people of California, can point to with pride. But you surely know that the battle to retain it will have to be refought by each new generation. Keep up the good fight, Governor!

Perhaps you have a wise political strategy to preserve the coastline and protect the independence of the Commission that you helped create all those years ago. I dearly hope this is the case. Fight for us, governor! DO NOT COMPROMISE under political pressure. In matters of preservation, compromise plus time equals capitulation. Stand with the people!


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