3/9 Press Conference: Social Justice Groups Demand Inclusion in Coastal Commission Decisions

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The following is a press release from an organization unaffiliated with Voice of OC. The views expressed here are not those of Voice of OC.

MEDIA ADVISORY

Press Conference: Social justice and environmental groups, Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples demand inclusion in hiring process for new Coastal Commission executive director 

For immediate release

March 7, 2016

Contact: Marce Gutierrez-Graudins, Azul, 650-260-4290mar@azulproject.org

Robert Garcia, The City Project, 213-260-1035rgarcia@cityprojectca.org

On Wednesday at its Santa Monica meeting, the California Coastal Commission will appoint an interim executive director, and discuss the process for hiring a permanent leader. Social justice, environmental, and indigenous rights advocates from across the state will be there to send a clear message to the Coastal Commission: the people of California expect a transparent, accountable Coastal Commission that serves all Californians, regardless of race, income or culture, and the Commission can start by including civil rights, Native Nations, public health, education and environmental groups in the hiring process. The groups also want to ensure that a good process is put in place to see important projects and policies before the Coastal Commission implemented during this transition.

What: A press conference and rally to demonstrate the broad and diverse constituency calling for an inclusive hiring process for the new executive director, and an independent Coastal Commission committed to civil rights and environmental justice.

When: 8:30AM on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 

Where: 
Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, East Wing
1855 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401 

Who:
The City Project
Azul
Sierra Club
Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples
Center for Biological Diversity
People Organized for Westside Renewal

Background:

The press conference is being held to communicate the following:

  • Demonstrate that California residents are united in supporting the efficacy of the Coastal Act and promoting full transparency at the Coastal Commission. Our concern and constituency goes far beyond the environment—we are united to highlight the importance of civil rights, indigenous rights, social justice, community health, and ensuring public accessfor all Californians.  As overdevelopment, coastal erosion and future sea level rise will continue to impact public access, we need an Executive Director and commissioners who will, as their roles require, represent all of us, regardless of demographics that are based on income and race.
  • Emphasize the key role climate change plays in this decision. The Executive Director must not only understand the Coastal Act and the social justice implications of its full and fair implementation, but also commit to the principles put forth in California’s Sea Level Rise Guidance Document and to fight on behalf of underserved communities typically left out of the planning process.  As sea level rise continues to shrink our beaches, public access will be compromised for allCalifornians.

The groups will make the following requests to the Commission:

  • Social justice, environmental and education organizations, and Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples request inclusion as formal stakeholders in the hiring process for a new Executive Director.  Having these communities at the table during the vetting and hiring process is extremely important, not only to find the right Executive Director, but also to help improve transparency with the Commission.
  • We ask the Commission to hold community-led workshops in places that are publicly accessible to diverse communities (Los Angeles River Center, Richmond, Central Valley, etc.) to discuss how the Commission can fully address environmental justice, climate change and public access issues.
  • As a quasi-judicial body, the Commission has always operated with an independent staff that acts a buffer between this Commission and special interests.  As advocates for the public interest, we ask that the Commission commit its strong support to the inherent independence of Staff—not only to maintain Staff integrity, but also to ensure Staff and Commission are not overly influenced by private interests.
  • We ask this Commission pass a resolution recommitting to compliance with federal and state civil rights laws against intentional discrimination and unjustified discriminatory impacts.
  • We urge this Commission to provide greater transparency as called for in the new legislation and work with legislators on the new bills for environmental justice and transparency.
  • We ask this Commission to focus on the big picture of systemic goals that will protect public access for all Californians, combat climate change, reduce barriers to public access (i.e., illegal trespassing signs, unpermitted development on public trust land, etc.) and maintain the integrity of the Coastal Act.
  • In order to ‘turn the page’ and move forward with any sense of deepened trust, we request Jack Ainsworth be assigned Interim Director during the search until the Commission can find a candidate who is environmentally knowledgeable, focused on curbing climate change, advancing environmental justice, and representing California’s diverse public.

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