Commission ousts staunch environmentalist Charles Lester
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 12 February, 2016 - Concerns are growing about the future of California’s open coast after the California Coastal Commission fired anti-growth, pro-environment commissioner Charles Lester.
Created 40 years ago by Governor Jerry Brown, the California Coastal Commission has been supporting the California Coastal Act, often to the dismay of developers. Spearheading these decisions at CCC were Peter Douglas (until 2012) and Charles Lester.
The action came down at a noisy hundreds-strong meeting in Morro Bay. According to the LA Times Lester was notified in a January letter that the panel "will consider whether to dismiss you.” They gave Lester two options: leave quietly or be put in front of a public hearing. Lester chose the hearing which went down yesterday and was attended by a who’s-who of surfer environmental groups and persons
The day-long meeting heard praise for Lester from such dignitaries as Mark Massara, Surfrider Foundation, Sustainable Surf and others. Despite the commission hearing only positive praise of Lester, they voted 7-5 to oust him.
“Unfortunately, this really validates the concerns that we’ve had since we heard about [the Commission’s plan to fire Lester],” Savage told Surfer Magazine. “And those are that this action was politically motivated and an example of the Commission not representing the people of California.”
Surfrider also posted on their website: This is obviously not a Coastal Commission working for the people, nor by the people.
We will work to bring this action, the failure in service to the public for whom they should be working - to light. But more productively, we will work to ensure that the Coastal Commission follows it's founding purpose: to permanently protect the California coast.
Lester, despite being canned hours earlier, offered his optimistic take on it all: “It’s been a privilege to serve the commission for the past four-and-a-half years. If there is a silver lining, I’ve been energized by all the people who came together on this.”