On April 1, Peter Douglas, Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission, passed away. We offer our sincere condolences to his family and friends.
Major newspapers across the State have reflected on Douglas’s passing and the legacy he leaves behind. The assessment of his record has been overwhelmingly positive. We, as ardent defenders of property rights, view the record in a different light. This is not the time for that debate. However, it is the time to take the Commission to task for its outrageous eulogy in praise of Douglas.
On its website, the Commission predictably praises Douglas’s role in advancing what it sees as “coastal protection.” But it goes on to demonize developers—those property owners whose only crime is to want to make legal and productive use of their lands. The Commission writes,
The arc of his commitment is long and like no other. Although he could also be a master of principled compromise, for more than 40 years, he has been Gandalf to the developers’ Balrog, standing resolute on tenuous footing while declaring, “You. Shall. Not. Pass.”
For those unfamiliar with the character references, Gandalf is the kindly, grey-haired wizard from Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings who helps the people of Middle-Earth fight against the forces of evil. The Balrogs are wicked, demonic-looking beings who belong to the army of Morgoth—the Black Foe of the World.
Shame on the Commission. This is an agency run by Commissioners who are appointed by elected officials—officials who represent all Californians, including coastal property owners. It is an agency whose busybody bureaucrats have jobs, thanks to funds provided by hardworking taxpayers—including coastal property owners. It is an agency that acts as judge, jury, and executioner, and is required by law to treat everyone who comes before it fairly and respectfully—including coastal property owners. And yet, in the Commission’s eyes, “developers”—coastal property owners—represent the forces of darkness and evil.
If there were ever any doubt about the Commission’s disdain for property owners, its latest assault on them should dispel it.