Escondido City Councilwoman Olga Diaz, voting as the alternate for County Supervisor Greg Cox, cast the deciding vote as the California Coastal Commission sacked executive director Dr. Charles Lester late yesterday.
The 7-5 decision ended a meeting in Morro Bay that ran late into the evening. The commissioners heard impassioned pleas from dozens of witnesses saying the director’s removal amounted to a green light for unchecked development on 1,100 miles of scenic mountains, cliffs and beaches along the Pacific Ocean.
Over 20,000 letters were received by the commission, with a vast majority supportive of Dr. Lester. Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer delivered a petition with nearly 10,000 signatures asking the commission to “put coastal protection before the demands of special interests.” The outpouring of support apparently didn’t outweigh a letter from the Los Angeles County Business Federation, an alliance of 155 business groups, blaming the commission’s staff for a lack of accountability and regulatory overreach. [Read more…]