Regarding Coastal Commission assertiveness in the Angry Poodle back in December, things must have changed since I worked there from 1978-2000. I supported coastal access but often seemed like a voice in the wilderness.
I tried to protect the de facto bike path from Rincon County Park to the seal sanctuary, only to see the matter dropped by other staff. Also, in the late 1970s, I tried to get a railroad bike underpass as part of the permit for a Chevron pipeline, only to have it opposed by the city and dropped. I also tried to get a bike and or pedestrian way, in an already designated paper street, along the waterfront at Pierpont Beach in Ventura, but this was dropped from the Local Coastal Program because of lack of support by State Parks. Also, staff rejected my concept for bikeway illustration as an inclusion in the City of Ventura LCP. I know of numerous other examples of where the Coastal Commission staff ignored existing or potential access ways in Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties.
Note that staff was generally not an active proponent of coastal access ways, even if they had highest priority under the Coastal Act, in most cases when there was lack of public support, such as the now defunct Coastwatch. Such organizations spoke up to get public access where staff would not.
Except where it was an extraction for development of single residences, which was an easy target compared to support from public agencies, the policy seemed to be you scratch my back, etc. One such private property extraction case went the whole way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Coastal Commission lost. The Coastal Commission staff was gun shy even before this, I suppose.
Note that the above refers to the staff. The Coastal Commission per se was remote and in the dark much of the time. Previous staff seemed to avoid controversy and publicity. So why has the Coastal Commission staff grown a set of balls, finally? It is all for the good in any event.