The Senate Rules Committee announced Wednesday evening that Long Beach City Councilmember and Vice Mayor Robert Garcia will become California's newest Coastal Commissioner, joining the quasi-judicial group that oversees water and land use along the state's coastal zone.
Garcia will fill the South Coast representative seat made vacant by Santa Monica City Councilmember Richard Bloom's election to the State Assembly in November. Garcia will be the youngest member of the commission.
"I am honored to serve the people of California and to begin the important work of protecting the California Coast while ensuring public access to this incredible natural resource," said Vice Mayor Garcia in a statement. "The California Coast is not only one of the most important assets in our state, but in the country."
Garcia was nominated to serve on the committee by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and beat out nominees from the Orange County Board of Supervisors and numerous other Southland cities. He received strong support from State Senator Ricardo Lara and Mayor Bob Foster as well as environmental organizations such as the Statewide Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation, Heal the Bay and the National Resources Defense Council.
"As Long Beach's State Senator and a member of the Rules Committee, we could not be prouder of Vice Mayor Garcia," said Senator Ricardo Lara. "The Commission is one of the most important in the state, and I'm confident that the Vice Mayor will work with business, labor, and our environmental advocates to protect the California Coast."
The California Coastal Commission was established in 1972 by proposition 20 and made permanent with the California Coastal Act of 1976. The commission's 12 seats are filled by six members of the public and six elected officials with four each appointed by the Governor, the Assembly Speaker and the Senate Rules Committee.
Garcia will serve as a voting member on the commission. Both City Councilmember Suja Lowenthal and current U.S. Representative Alan Lowenthal have served as alternates in the past. Suja Lowenthal and City Councilmember Gerrie Schipske were also both nominated to fill the South Coast representative seat when it was last vacant in 2009, but that appointment went to Santa Monica's Bloom.
The Commission works with coastal cities and counties to plan and regulate the use of land and water along the coast, including construction of buildings, the change of intensity of land or public access to coastal waters. With no oversight to its actions and extensive control over ocean-adjacent construction, however, it has received criticism for its methods and practices.
In Long Beach, projects such as the Pike at Rainbow Harbor and the restoration of the Los Cerritos Wetlands have come under the Coastal Commission's jurisdiction. The opinion of the commission will also come into play if plans for development at Second St. and Pacific Coast Highway are ever adopted again.
"Vice Mayor Garcia's appointment to the Coastal Commission is a win for California and for Long Beach. His balanced approach to complex issues on the City Council will serve the Commission well," said Mayor Bob Foster.
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