The Santa Barbara Independent’s April 2 article, “Flexing Muscles Over Mussels,” included a gratuitous reference to a Coastal Commission staff person’s surname, in the process implying that working with the commission is akin to working with the devil. This reference reflects poorly on The Independent and is inconsistent with the rest of the article’s content.
The story demonstrates that commission staff is working cooperatively with Bernard Friedman, going the extra mile to keep him in business while bringing his operation into compliance. Aquaculture is a priority under the Coastal Act, but we should still do it right, which is what we’re doing. Even writer Matt Kettmann concedes that “[t]he regulators are pulling for him” and that staff has been open to “creative, cost-effective” solutions.
The California coast is admired around the world for its public coastal access, breathtaking scenic and agricultural landscapes, and thriving natural habitats. This legacy of coastal protection is due to the very “broad and rigorous” management authority of the commission under the California Coastal Act of 1976. Kettmann calls the commission “notorious.” I believe that the commission is widely recognized for its successful protection of our coast for the benefit of all.
The challenges we face in environmental management are not well-served by perpetuating stereotypes of government. Nor should individuals working hard for the public interest be disrespected — particularly when they do their job well. I feel privileged to be working with so many committed public servants on behalf of the citizens of California.
Charles Lester is executive director of the California Coastal Commission.