City spurns Coastal Commission's lobbying efforts for more funding

June 13, 2013 | By PAUL BEARD

On Tuesday, the city council of Newport Beach (California) voted against a resolution supporting additional state funding for the California Coastal Commission.  The Commission—which regulates coastal property owners’ use of their lands with an iron fist—has for years been complaining about its lack of resources and staffing levels.  Consequently, the agency has been lobbying the Legislature to give it an additional $4 million per year.  As part of this effort, the Commission has been lobbying coastal cities and counties to express to the Legislature their support for the additional funding.

Newport Beach refused to play along. At the city’s Tuesday meeting,  council member Tony Petros led the opposition to the resolution, boldly remarking:

It has been my experience . . . that the Coastal Commission has been one of the largest adversaries to Newport Beach moving forward in our pursuit on the behalf of the citizens of Newport Beach.  For us to go ahead and suggest in these tough budgetary times that the agency that has little if any accountability to the residents and citizens of California should receive more to continue to stymie our efforts seems contradictory to everything that we do.  And, therefore, I will not support this . . . .

The city council voted 5-2 to reject the resolution, dealing an important blow to the Commission’s lobbying efforts.

Newport Beach’s action on the resolution reflects a growing frustration among many coastal cities and counties with what they see as the Commission’s usurpation of local powers and extreme heavy-handedness.  Moreover, what makes the Newport Beach vote particularly interesting is that it likely would benefit from the Commission’s receipt of additional funds. One quarter of the $4 million request is slated for grant money that would go directly to local governments to help them draft and implement their own (Commission-certified) land-use plans.