Local activists play key role in protecting
by Mark Massara, Sierra Club Director of
Ventana" by Bill Fravel
When people picture California's coast, they imagine the grandeur
of Big Sur, surfing in Santa Cruz, and the majesty of our Monterey
pines. Although we still face many threats to the Central Coast,
we have managed to preserve much of our natural heritage. Coastal
water quality was rated high in a recent study, we have record amounts
of coastal open space, and we have largely escaped rows of high-priced
resorts and luxury condos built inches away from the shoreline.
Coastal activists have made all these victories possible. Thirty
years ago Ventana Chapter members played a key role in working to
pass Proposition 20 which became the Coastal Act and created the
California Coastal Commission to uphold this new law.
Our coastline has benefited endlessly. The Coastal Commission prohibited
construction of a surf-damaging 1100-foot seawall at Pleasure Point.
The Commission protected the delicate dunes in Sand City from a
huge hotel and enabled the creation of Monterey's picturesque bikeway.
These and countless other decisions by the Commission over the years
have helped protect our coastal legacy for future generations.
City's fragile dunes remain free of development due to the Coastal
Commission's important role in protecting our coast.
Photo - Kenneth Adelmand and Californiacoastline.org
As you can imagine, the special interests eager to develop our
coast are not fans of the Coastal Commission. They have tried a
number of ways to undermine its authority. Last year they supported
a lawsuit challenging the Commission's constitutionality. They have
also lobbied public officials and begun a major public relations
push aimed at discrediting this essential agency.
While the lawsuit only served to strengthen and further legitimize
the Commission's authority, the other well-funded efforts are harder
How to help
If you haven't joined already, join Great Coastal Places,
Sierra Club's network of 5,000 coastal advocates from Eureka to
San Diego. On the web, visit www.sierraclub/ca/coasts. Participants
receive alerts about key coastal issues.
Attend a Coastal Commission Hearing. Hearings take place
in a different coastal city every month. You can see the schedule
and learn what issues will be discussed by visiting http://www.coastal.ca.gov.
When specific issues arise, contact your public officials
and let them know that the Coastal Commission and our coast must
be protected. Big coastal protection decisions are ahead, including
the fate of many thousands of threatened Monterey pines. Don't worry
about writing the perfect letter, just write. You'd be amazed by
what a strong impact you can make.
We all can do something. Remember, we only have one coast. Join
the Great Coastal Places campaign to receive timely information
on coastal issues. Let's make sure that our children and our children's
children will be able to enjoy our great coastal places.
Visit Sierra Club's Great Coastal Places website at http://www.sierraclub.org/ca/coasts/.
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