Jockeying for a Coastal Commission seat heats up



As the nomination deadline for an open seat on the highly influential California Coastal Commission approaches, San Luis Obispo County politicos are engaged in a chaotic game of musical chairs.

The seat in question—the commission’s South Central Coast representative, encompassing SLO County, Santa Barbara County, and Ventura County—has been held by Ventura City Councilman Brian Brennan since April 2011.

Brennan chose not to run for re-election on the council in November 2013, and since a local elected official must hold the seat, it’s now up for grabs.

Gov. Jerry Brown will appoint Brennan’s replacement, and applications to his office are due by Jan. 22, according to spokesman Evan Westrup.

According to Coastal Commission Legislative Director Sarah Christie, each of the three counties will submit two lists of nominees—one from their Board of Supervisors, and one from each county’s City Selection Committee (CSC, a group of mayors from all county cities).

At a sparsely attended afternoon meeting of the SLO County CSC on Jan. 3, Grover Beach Mayor Debbie Peterson was picked as the committee’s sole nominee for the seat.

All county mayors except for SLO City Mayor Jan Marx voted to nominate Peterson.

Marx said she feared the meeting had been under-publicized and requested that the committee put out another call for applicants.

In a Jan. 8 press release, the Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club slammed the nomination. Chair Michael Jencks said Peterson was a “servant of the off-road vehicle lobby” and compared the CSC’s action to “nominating a fox to the henhouse.”

As New Times went to press on Jan. 8, several names were swirling around as possible nominees for the Board of Supervisors’ list, among them Pismo Beach City Councilman Erik Howell and Marx herself.

District 3 Supervisor Adam Hill told New Times he would support Howell should he apply, adding that the board will select its nominees during the Jan. 14 meeting.

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