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Despite Recent Scrutiny, Review Finds Coastal Commission Sticks By Mandate

Frank Schulenburg / Flickr

The California coastline by Muir Beach, northwest of San Francisco, is shown in this undated photo.

A review of 20 years-worth of California Coastal Commission rulings found the commission paid a lot of attention to protecting coastal resources and public access.

The commission got a lot of attention in recent weeks because of the controversial firing of executive director Charles Lester. That public dismissal raised questions about the commission rulings, but didn't prompt this study.

Iris Hui works at the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University and examined almost two decades of the coastal panel's rulings. The findings are that the agency was pretty consistent and open about its decisions.

"Actually, I think the coastal commission deserves some credit there, because I have actually looked at other regulatory agencies in the state. Not all of them actually put their records online," Hui said

The panel ends up approving roughly 80 percent of the requests for construction in the coastal zone, Hui said, but the agency frequently negotiates conditions that protect the coast or public access.

"The approval comes with a lot of negotiations, behind the scene. And then they also come with a lot of conditions, so its not like, 'I give you a rubber stamp. You know, I say yes to everything,'" Hui said.

The coastal panel stays true to its mandate, according to the study.

The commission was created in the 1970s to protect coastal assets and public access.

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