Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

Peter Douglas dies: Longtime director and defining presence of California Coastal Commission was 69

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36026 full

A spokeswoman for the California Coastal Commission is saying that Peter Douglas, the longtime executive director and defining presence for the commission, died on Sunday in Southern California at his sister's house from complications related to lung cancer. The Washington Post writes that Douglas "spent a quarter century fighting to keep much of the state’s 1,100 miles of coastline natural." He was 69.

For a lot of Southern Californians, the San Onofre Toll Road issue made Douglas somewhat of a household name.

After he said he was stepping down from his seat as the executive director, Douglas emailed me to say he couldn't do an interview. I regret that. My native Californian life was just a bit shorter than the life of the institution he was around from the very beginning. I wrote a couple of additional posts about his announcement. And last August, I dedicated a Song of the Week to the commission, to Douglas, and his adversaries. 

Douglas was weighing in on the coast until the end. Last year, when budget cuts threatened state park closures, he pointed out that the state constitution makes walking along a wet beach up to high tide level a public right. 

Back in 2005, Air Talk had Douglas on to talk about the constitutionality of the constitution, and they talked about the commission in 2003, too.

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