Southern California environment news and trends

Heal The Bay wants you for Earth Month

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prayitno/Flickr CC

Santa Monica Beach.

Heal The Bay is supersizing Earth Day. The Santa Monica-based nonprofit environmental group is expanding the concept to launch Earth Month next month with more than 50 events across L.A. County throughout April.

Among the many festivals and outreach programs are a series of volunteer-based events that are expected to draw thousands of participants, particularly over Earth Day weekend, April 21-22.

According to a press release, people interested in getting involved can pre-register at www.healthebay.org, with a volunteer orientation scheduled for the evening of April 9 at Heal The Bay’s main office in Santa Monica.

For Earth Day, Heal The Bay’s monthly “Nothin’ But Sand” beach cleanup in Santa Monica will feature the star power of Ian Somerhalder, best known as the main hot guy on TV show “The Vampire Diaries.” It’s all in conjunction with Somerhalder’s Foundation and its “Get Dirty” initiative, with Whole Foods Market and the California Coastal Commission also getting involved.

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Del Mar Fairgrounds offers $5 million for environmental upgrades

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Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Fair-goers enjoy a ride at the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar, California.

The last thing anyone is thinking about at the fair is politics. Roller coasters and corn dogs are more like it. But just down south, the Del Mar Fairgrounds, home to the popular annual San Diego County Fair (which set an attendance record last year) has agreed to pony up $5 million for environmental improvements to the area after much political wrangling.  

For more than a decade, the California Coastal Commission alleges that the 400-acre area has been in violation of a number of their statutes. Bordering the San Dieguito wetlands, the fairgrounds has been charged with a number of infractions over the years, from setting up tents, a pumpkin patch and erecting a concert stage in the vicinity, all unapproved by the commission.

Now that the fair board has agreed to a cease and desist order and won’t dispute the Coastal Commissions jurisdiction over the area, It’s clearly a great deal for the Commission. The fairgrounds will surrender 15% of their parking (namely the south overflow dirt lot), which will be returned to the wetlands. They will also restore a wetlands buffer to the southern and eastern edges of the property of 100 feet and will pay the wetlands coalition $100,000 over five years starting in 2013.

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Song of the Week: for the Coastal Commission and its adversaries, Old 97's "The One"

This week's song honors the coast of California…you know, the one that the California Coastal Commission watches over…including Peter Douglas, the longtime executive director of that regulatory body. As we reported, he announced his retirement this week. Song of the week's by the Old 97's, one of my favorite bands. It's called "The One." The opening - shimmery guitar chords - give way to lyrics sung by Rhett Miller that imagine the band robbing a bank and running away up the coast.

Murray says we’re gonna take the money sometime

Well it might as well be this time

We’re gonna spend it all on ourselves

Ken picked this bank at random

I said, do we shoot them?

And he said, either way’s alright

Whistlin’ Boy, that’s Philip, he’s our drummer

He does the them from “Endless Summer”

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More on Peter Douglas retiring from the Coastal Commission

California Coastal Commission executive director Peter Douglas, as Pacific Swell noted yesterday, is 2 days away from the end of his effective career. I mentioned in yesterday's post that the Pacific Legal Foundation sparred frequently with Douglas. Afterward, Paul Beard of the Pacific Legal Foundation said:

While we all wish Peter Douglas the best in his fight against a terrible illness, let's hope a new chapter will now open at the Coastal Commission -- an era with much more respect for the constitutional rights of property owners.   The California Coastal Commission has made itself nationally notorious for abuse of rights and arrogance toward landowners.
No wonder it has been slapped down again and again by courts, for unconstitutional policies and actions.  The U.S. Supreme Court itself blasted the commission for "an out-and-out plan of extortion" when it was using the permitting process as a way to get around eminent domain and take property without paying for it.  Property rights form the basis of all our liberties, and it is time for the Coastal Commission to stop eroding them.

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Coastal Commission loses Peter Douglas: a "radical pagan heretic" and "bureaucratic street fighter"

The California Coastal Commission is about to change dramatically because of one man. Peter Douglas, the longtime executive director of the commission, announced at a meeting today that he would take medical leave before retiring later this year. He is one of those guys who actually wrote the book: he co-authored the ballot initiative that created the coastal commission in 1972, and the law that made it permanent in 1976. Now a Marin resident, Douglas came to the US from Germany, as the New York Times noticed in a  profile of him last year: 

His powers of endurance, both personal and professional, are legendary. Born in Berlin, he fled the Nazis with his family when he was a child. In 2006, two years after recovering from Stage 4 cancer, Mr. Douglas set a match to a pile of dead leaves he had doused with gasoline, setting off an explosion that sent him flying. He has recovered from the serious burns.

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