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Coastal Commission seat is filled

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After nearly two decades without a local official filling a seat at the powerful California Coastal Commission, Ventura County was shown a little love by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.

Brian Brennan, a three-term councilman and former mayor for the city of Ventura, was announced as Brown’s selection to represent Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties on the state regulatory agency’s 12-person board.

Brennan currently holds a seat on a number of regional boards, including the Ventura County Air Pollution Control Board and the Beach Erosion Authority. He’s also chairman-elect of the Ventura County Regional Energy Alliance and chairman of the Ventura Regional Sanitation District.

He’s been a restaurateur, working as general manager for Chart House Restaurants for more than 20 years before being elected to the city council. A longtime member of the city’s chamber of commerce, he was a founding member of the Surfrider Foundation’s Ventura County chapter.

Evan Westrup, spokesman for Brown, told New Times Brennan was selected for his past representation of the business and environmental communities, as well as his experience in public service.

Brennan told New Times the Coastal Act was one of the first pieces of legislation to compel him to get involved in public policy. He recalled walking door-to-door during the signature-gathering effort to get the initiative on the ballot in 1972.

“It’s going to be an awful lot of paperwork and homework,” Brennan said, joking about his appointment. “But really, it’s the opportunity to be a steward and advance conservation of public lands and walk that line between private property rights and public access to the coast.”

The regional seat went vacant after newly elected Brown notified Pismo Beach Councilwoman Mary Ann Reiss in January that her services on the commission were no longer needed. Reiss—a Republican—had been appointed by former Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in the last days of his administration.

Reiss, San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Bruce Gibson, San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx, and Arroyo Grande City Councilman Joe Costello were also considered for the seat, as was Santa Barbara County Supervisor Janet Wolf and Port Hueneme City Councilman Jonathon Sharkey.

Though each commissioner is appointed one alternate, Westrup said the governor has yet to announce that person, and that he didn’t know when that announcement would be made.

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