Southern California environment news and trends

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.


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.


Superfund site of the Week: Palos Verdes Shelf

We're launching a regular feature I'm pretty jazzed about: each week we're going to profile a Superfund site in California. 

Superfund is a more fun way to refer to CERCLA - the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980. In that law, the United States recognized that we have places where we've dumped toxic wastes. And we recognized that it's worth designating them as such, putting them under federal Environmental Protection Agency supervision, and cleaning them up. 

That last part is where it gets tricky. Superfund sites sometimes are superBIG. Or superTOXIC. Or superCOMPLEX…you see where I'm going. If you make a law in 1980, for example, and a company that dumped toxic materials someplace did it during World War II and promptly went out of business, it's hard to get anyone to pay for it. 


Los Angeles more and less green than you think: Siemens Green Cities Index gives LA a purple ribbon

Los Angeles has placed 7th overall in a survey of sustainability policies and practices of American and Canadian cities. Second in California (San Francisco placed first); better than you'd think, though, when you drill down into the different data sets. We may not get a blue ribbon, but the purple ribbon (the one I recall getting in the 50 butterfly when I ws a kid swimmer) keeps us respectable. 

Siemens sponsored the Green City Index, which was run by the Economist Intelligence Unit; it's the first of its kind, in the US and Canada, though Siemens has been indexing other parts of the world longer. 27 American and Canadian cities got looked over for environmental governance, air, waste, water, transportation, buildings, land use, energy, and climate change policies in a comprehensive report. 


LA water rates: Should a raise be delayed?

Angelenos, you can't say they didn't ask: LADWP officials hold their last big "community collaboration" session tonight - at the Hope Street HQ from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. City council's still the final word on if and when rates go up, but DWP seems to really want Angelenos to have first say - and that's now. 

DWP's been doing these sessions for a month now, and they're slick: power point presentations, group facilitators, breakdowns of a lot of water rate and power rate information. Even still, a scattering of voices is complaining this is all happening too fast. The latest addition is the LA Neighborhood Council Coalition30 or so of its members decided over the holiday weekend they want a delay. "LANCC cannot support any rate increases until the Ratepayers Advocate has reviewed and analyzed these rate increases and discussed the review and analysis with the Ratepayers and the public," their resolution reads in part.