A California Coastal Commission license plate fracas


Author:?  Damien M. Schiff

Here in California the state allows drivers to have specially designed backgrounds for their license plates (of course, this costs extra at registration time).  One of the more popular special plates has a background image of a whale’s tailfin going down beneath the sea.  The Coastal Commission receives the funds from the plate’s use.  Since the plate’s appearance in 1997, over $60 million have gone to the Commission for environmental uses.

Now, however, the Commission has decided to adopt a slightly different design, which it contends is “like a bright day that is very evocative of California.”  The old design, in contrast, “was hazy and moody,” whereas the new “a little more optimistic.”  Apparently, the artist of the old design—Laguna Beach-based Robert Wyland (N.B. he goes only by “Wyland”) contends that the Commission went to a new design only because the Commission refused to donate a percentage of the proceeds to Wyland’s favorite environmental charity (a Wyland representative called the new design “a very poor imitation of a Wyland artwork”).

I can certainly think of a more appropriate background image for the Commission’s license plate; perhaps the cover of this brochure.