- PHOTO BY HENRY BRUINGTON
- NEW COMISH IN TOWN: Pismo Beach City Councilman Erik Howell is San Luis Obispo County’s first appointee to the California Coastal Commission since 2011. Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Howell, who’s also a private practice attorney, to the commission on Feb. 21.
Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Pismo Beach City Councilman Erik Howell to the California Coastal Commission’s vacant South Central Coast seat on Feb. 21, putting an end to months of political jockeying.
Brown’s office and Howell both confirmed the appointment to New Times.
“It’s a great honor,” Howell said. “I’m looking forward to the work, I’m looking forward to making a difference, and I’m looking forward to protecting our coast.”
An elected official from San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, or Ventura counties must hold the commission’s South Central Coast seat, which had been held by former Ventura City Councilman Brian Brennan since April 2011. Brennan chose not to run for re-election on his City Council in November 2013, putting the seat up for grabs.
The last SLO County politician to serve on the Coastal Commission before Howell’s appointment was Pismo Beach City Councilwoman Mary Ann Reiss. She held the South Central Coast seat for a brief two months in early 2011 before Gov. Jerry Brown dismissed her. Former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger nominated Reiss in the waning days of his administration.
Aside from Howell, there were four nominees for the seat.
Howell and Grover Beach Mayor Debbie Peterson were nominated from San Luis Obispo County.
Goleta Mayor Michael T. Bennett was the sole Santa Barbara County nominee.
Oxnard City Councilwoman Carmen Ramirez and Port Hueneme Mayor Jonathan Sharkey were Ventura County’s picks.
The Board of Supervisors in both SLO and Santa Barbara counties nominated Howell. The Santa Barbara supes and the Ventura County City Selection Committee (a group of mayors from all county cities) nominated Ramirez. The Santa Barbara supes and the Santa Barbara City Selection Committee nominated Bennett.
Ramirez and Howell were the only candidates to receive nominations from multiple counties.
Brown’s office announced Howell’s appointment one day before the 30-day appointment period was set to expire.
Howell said he would be sworn in during the Coastal Commission’s March 12 meeting in Long Beach.