In its pristine condition, our 1,100 miles of California coastline powers our economy and makes life as a Californian something rare and special.

By popular vote in 1972, Californians approved the California Coastal Act which established the California Coastal Commission, deciding that our coast’s sustained value to all people, for generations, was far more valuable than its worth as development sites sold to private entities. Every year since, California’s coastal real estate has increased in value as our nation’s less protected and developed coastlines have depreciated. This rise in value is paired with increasing potential profits for any corporation who can break our legacy of coastal protection.

Recently, a behind-the-scenes effort has been exposed to fire Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission Dr. Charles Lester. Why? Dr. Lester stands in the way of a number of highly lucrative coastal development projects. Corporate interests are trying to seize control of the Coastal Commission and thus the control of the California people’s coast. We can stop them.

What is the best way for corporate interests to gain control of the Coastal Commission?

Firing the current executive director in favor of someone collaborating with and funded by corporate interests makes the power grab swift and quiet. This is the chosen strategy of the appointed Commissioners and their many developer backers.

The only real reason the commissioner’s could have a problem with Dr. Lester is they do not like his stellar effectiveness protecting California’s Coast. Dr. Lester’s leadership has lead to over 90 California community, environmental and social justice organizations uniting, reduced process times for permits and appeals, massive progress in helping coastal communities plan for sea-level rise, modernization of local coastal plans across the state and the creation of an online database for public viewing of the progress of all coastal projects.

The Corporate Greed Behind the Power Grab

A number of multi-million and billion dollar projects, including housing, hotels and energy, are poised for launch if their developers have a more malleable Coastal Commission. Multi-million dollar investments to buy the Comission would pay off handsomely and immediately.

It is no coincidence that private water developer, Poseidon, has a proposed $1 billion desalination plant that goes before the Coastal Commission later this year. Poseidon stands to make billions of dollars in profits over the 50-year life of the project. In November 2013, the Commission denied Poseidon an approval to build the plant. Poseidon has already spent over $50 million to obtain project approvals. As they see it, they are in the home stretch, but if the Coastal Commission denies its last permit needed to start construction, its funds and years of effort go down the drain. Taking out the Commission’s executive director creates a valuable insurance policy for Poseidon and project’s like it across the state.

Why isn’t California’s coast lined with high-rise condos and resorts like south Florida’s Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale?

The only reason is the California Coastal Commission. Individual actions by Californians like you established the Comission and have successfully defended the people’s ownership of our most valuable resource since 1972. It’s time again to demand our leaders assert that our coast is not for sale.

In this State, there is only one entity that owns our coastline and beaches and that is YOU as a CALIFORNIAN!


Here’s what you can do to make a real difference:

  • Share the action alert
  • Call the Governor at (916) 445-2841
  • Email the Commission at
  • Attend the February 10 meeting in Morro Bay
  • Share this information on social media, use #saveourcoast

Garry Brown is Executive Director and Board President of Coastkeeper.

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