depositphotos_1347681-Merry-go-roundCan you tell me what I had in mind when I picked this picture and title. You need some help? A clue? Okay, I’m generous to a fault, I’ll give you two.

One: We’ve got those ever present, ever deplorable lobbyists. Always taking us for a ride. You know, on a merry-go-round.

Two: Then there’s The Wife. Waxing nostalgic about family outings to the beach as a kid. Always a fun merry-go-round to ride.

Two clues. But which is it? If you said “both,” you win the Kewpie doll. Yeah, what I’ve got on my mind are lobbyists trying to spoil our beaches.

Here in California, real estate development projects are generally subject to two bodies of governmental regulation. One concerns itself with land use planning, making sure that the development is suitable for its proposed location. Not so tall it blocks views. Not so dense it will create traffic jams. These regulators are concerned with things like curb cuts, signals, parking, transportation, utilities. The other makes sure the development is built in a safe manner, that it won’t fall over in a storm or an earthquake or constitute a fire trap or become too hot in the summer or two cold in the winter.

In the case of land within 1,000 yards of the shoreline, California has a third regulatory body, known as the California Coastal Commission. While land use and building safety regulatory agencies are community specific, hundreds of them existing across our state, we have only one Coastal Commission for all of our beaches.

None of this is an accident. We have a third authority within 1,000 yards of the shore because, historically, our shores are considered very special, in need of a special authority to protect its unique and special interests, and the interests of all of our citizens in our shores. In theory, conceived just to focus on unique shoreline interests, the Coastal Commission commonly asserts itself in local land use and building safety matters as well. Suffice to say that the Coastal Commission is not . . . bashful.

It should come as no surprise that wherever we have rules, and people who make and enforce those rules, we have lobbyists who are not too far away. Prepared to gum up the works. Hey, that’s what they do.

Of late, the Coastal Commission Commissioners (think of them as a board of directors because that’s what they are) are in an unusual knock down, drag out fight with the Coastal Commission’s Executive Director (think of him as the chief executive officer, or CEO, of the Commission because that’s what he is). In typical corporate fashion (even in this instance of what is in essence a public corporation in the ultimate sense, not meaning one that trades on a stock exchange), the Executive Director reports to and serves at the pleasure of the Commissioners (subject to employment contracts of course) and the Commissioners serve at the pleasure of their “stockholders,” in this case the California electorate.

What’s the big deal, then? The Commissioners are just doing their job, right? They’re supervising the day to day manager of the Executive Director. They reportedly have some doubts and are evaluating his administrative effectiveness.

A little more candor please. They haven’t previously thought to question his administrative skills. So, what’s up? High rises are up, or will be if the real estate developers and their lobbyists have their way. Seems like our Executive Director is more worried about you and me having plenty of access to the California shoreline and beaches. The Commissioners are apparently more closely “aligned” with the developers and their lobbyists. I can’t help but wonder why?

Does this mean the Commissioners are doing something wrong? Not substantively. It is their precise sacred duty to be sure our beaches are being protected. Procedurally, however, if they are not being candid–transparent–with their “shareholders,” the California voters, then that’s a horse of a different color. As this stage is being set, it looks to me like we could use a little more transparency. Perhaps a lot more transparency.

This is just a head’s up. About an exercise only in it’s early stages. Let’s all keep a watch on what’s going down–or up–and make sure the Commissioners are protecting our interests. And not someone else’s.In the meanwhile,The Wife has told me to keep my eye on the ball–on who’s going to get the brass ring here. And to make sure no one’s messing with “her” merry-go-rounds.

Editors’ Note: I had a hard time choosing the category in which to pigeon hole this blog. I ended up choosing “political,” but it was a close call. Don’t be surprised if we soon have to switch it to “legal.”

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