Douglas retiring from Coastal Commission
Peter Douglas, Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission, has announced he is taking medical leave and will retire in November. Douglas is fighting cancer.
Commissioner Steve Blank wrote about Douglas’ tenure on the CCC in a post called Going Out With His Boots On. Excerpt below.
There’s an old political science rule of thumb that says regulatory agencies become captured by the industries that they regulate within seven years. Yet for the 26 years of Peter’s tenure he’s managed to keep the commission independent despite of enormous pressure.
The Commission has been able to stave off the tragedy of the commons for the California coast. Upholding the Coastal Act had it taking unpopular positions upsetting developers who have fought with the agency over seaside projects, homeowners who strongly feel that private property rights unconditionally trump public access and local governments who believe they should have the final say in what’s right for their community.
Peter opened the commission up to public participation and promoted citizen activism. He built a world-class staff who understand what public service truly means.
Over the last 40 years the winners have been 37 million Californians and the people who drive down the coast and can’t imagine why its looks like it does. In spite of opposition the commission has carried out the public trust.
The coast is never saved, it is always being saved. The work is never finished. The pressure to develop it is relentless, and it can be paved over with a thousand small decisions. I hope our children don’t look back at pictures of the California coast and wistfully say, “look what our parents lost.”
As commissioners it’s our job to choose Peter’s replacement. Hopefully we’ll have the wisdom in finding a worthy successor. The people of California and their children deserve as much.
Godspeed Peter Douglas.
[Image from the LA Times.]