Playing hard ball with the California Coastal Commission


Author:  Damien M. Schiff

Last month, PLF filed a lawsuit against the California Coastal Commission on behalf of a concerned group of citizens, arguing that the Commission has no authority to stop a needed cleanup of a blighted brownfield property in downtown Eureka, California.  Well, shortly after filing, the Eureka Times-Standard ran an article quoting Commission Chair Bonnie Neely and Executive Director Peter Douglas saying some pretty nasty (and untrue) things about PLF.  Below is my letter to the editor, which the Times-Standard ran recently.

Recently, Pacific Legal Foundation attorneys filed a lawsuit, on behalf of Citizens for a Better Eureka, challenging the California Coastal Commission’s decision to halt — and possibly to stop altogether — the needed cleanup of the polluted and blighted Balloon Track property. In the wake of the suit’s filing, Humboldt County Supervisor and Coastal Commission Chair Bonnie Neely stated: “The Pacific Legal Foundation is a Sacramento special interest group funded by big oil and tobacco companies, and I don’t think anybody in Humboldt County trusts them to clean up a toxic site.” [Times-Standard, Feb. 10, 2010]. Similarly, Peter Douglas, the commission’s Executive Director, asserted: “I think it’s a frivolous lawsuit, but it’s typical. It’s what we see all the time from the Pacific Legal Foundation. Clearly, we have jurisdiction, but if they want to waste public resources … they have a right to go to court. That’s kind of the nature of our system.” [Times-Standard, Feb. 12, 2010].

Both Chair Neely and Director Douglas are in error. Pacific Legal Foundation is funded mainly by “little guys” — average people throughout the country, including in California’s coastal areas, who find their rights threatened by Big Government and Big Bureaucrats. The interests of these people –ordinary, hardworking Americans — are the only “special interests” that Pacific Legal Foundation represents.

As for the merits of the lawsuit, those will be decided in due course by the courts. But Director Douglas’ comments nevertheless confirm what people have known all along about the Coastal Commission: It is a government agency that views any limitation on its power as a threat, and that lets nothing stand in the way of flexing its bureaucratic muscle –not the environment, and certainly not the best interests of the citizens of Eureka.