Why is Adam Hill silent on firing of Coastal Commission director?
February 17, 2016
OPINION by DAN CARPENTER
A week has gone by since the firing of the Executive Director of the Coastal Commission, and no public comment by Supervisor Adam Hill whose district includes the coastal zone from Montana De Oro south to the Oceano Dunes. Why are you silent, Mr. Hill?
Late last Wednesday, after an all day meeting in Morro Bay with more than 1000 people attending, the commission emerged from a closed-session to announce it had voted to dismiss Dr. Charles Lester. All of the speakers spoke in support of the state’s most important guardian of sensitive habitats and public access to the coastline. Thirty-five former Coastal Commissioners, including San Luis Obispo County’s own Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, wrote in favor of Dr. Lester’s stewardship of the fragile California Coast.
For the many environmental and community groups that support the Coastal Act, firing Dr. Lester creates a major political rift over development and access on the 1,100 miles of coastline in California.
Avila, Pismo, and Grover Beaches are all coastal communities that may face significant development impacts from this back room decision made by a slim 7-5 majority of the Coastal Commissioners.
Erik Howell, Pismo Beach city councilman and Coastal Commissioner, led the charge to remove Dr. Lester, stating that “a lack of communication and needless delays on projects in the coastal zone” were reasons he voted to dismiss the commission’s Executive Director.
After his dismissal, Dr. Lester told the LA Times that “This commission seems to be more interested in and receptive to the concerns of the development community as a general rule. There is less focus on how we can make decisions to implement the Coastal Act.” The San Luis Obispo Tribune even awarded the commission a “boatload of brickbats” for the secretive firing, calling it “arbitrary and at odds with public opinion”.
It should be noted that Mr. Howell is an avid supporter of current 3rd District Supervisor Adam Hill’s reelection. He is listed as an endorsement on Mr. Hill’s website, along side many developers.
It’s no secret Mr. Hill has been a supporter of substantial development throughout his district, including Avila and Pismo. Just look at his campaign financial disclosures – every major developer has made substantial donations. Could it be that Mr. Hill had some influence in Dr. Lester’s demise?
It appears convenient to have an impediment like Dr. Lester removed so his financial supporter’s projects could move through the process with less scrutiny.
Why hasn’t Supervisor Hill addressed this publicly, explaining to his constituency in these coastal communities why he supports this decision or doesn’t? Is he playing politics again to get reelected?
So, where do you stand on this Supervisor Hill? Do you support your good friend and campaign endorser Erik Howell and his development backed colleagues, as well as yours, in the firing of Dr. Lester, or do you stand behind the thousands of 3rd district residents, including myself, that want the coastline protected from irresponsible development?
Your constituency awaits Supervisor Hill…….if you can’t answer, I am sure the electorate will on June 7.
Dan Carpenter is a San Luis Obispo councilman and a candidate for the San Luis Obispo County District 3 supervisor seat currently held by Adam Hill.