By TOM HONIG
More and more, people with solid environmentalist credentials are questioning the role of the California Coastal Commission.
The commission's mandate, established in great part with the state Coastal Act of 1972, has been to protect the California coast from overdevelopment. And it has achieved that.
But -- the economic state of the California coast is much changed, and the Coastal Commission -- to some -- has turned into a meddlesome bureaucracy that is getting in the way of healthy economic growth. Part of the problem is that unlike other elected bodies, the Coastal Commission doesn't take into account the entire cost-benefit spectrum of development. Its area of concern is really quite narrow.
That's the state of things facing the proposed La Bahia development in Santa Cruz. The Santa Cruz City Council -- hardly a pro-development body -- has ruled by a 5-1 majority that the payoff for the city more than justifies approval of the project. At issue is a request by the city for a 14-foot variance to what's allowed currently.
The Coastal Commission will rule on the matter next month. But as my column in this week's Good Times shows, the Commission will rule with only part of the issue on the table.
Is that good government from an unelected body? I'm not so sure.