Why is California’s Governor Turning Into a Bay Boy?

Way back in 1976, an environmentally friendlier Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Coastal Act, beginning 40 years of coastal protection and a dramatic expansion of public access to CA’s beaches.

The Inertia

The local surfers of Palos Verdes known as the “Bay Boys,” think they own the cliffs and the waves at Lunada Bay. Some might argue California Governor Jerry Brown is also trying to monopolize your public beaches for the enjoyment of a select few. The California Coastal Commission has endured massive shake ups recently, and Governor Brown has been mostly invisible throughout those changes. It all seems to align with allowing public beaches to be thrown under bulldozers and behind “No Trespassing” signs. According to Sierra Club California, the “‘By-right’ development policies proposed in Trailer Bill 707 remove the rights of people to get information about the impacts of development proposed in their neighborhoods.” It’s not hard to imagine the Bay Boys would approve of the Governor’s plan, as it plays out just like their own rein over Lunada Bay.

Maybe they’ll make Gov. Brown an honorary Bay Boy.

But Gov. Brown can do a lot more damage than the Bay Boys can. He wants to carve a massive loophole in the Coastal Act. This would undermine the law that has provided public access to clean beaches for surfers for 40 years. The very same law that he passed when he was governor back in 1976.

Under the new proposal, any developer that includes at least 5% of their project as affordable housing can build whatever they want, wherever they want on beaches. This means if someone decides to buy up all the houses in a cove, turn it into one gigantic apartment building, and put a “No Trespassing” sign on the beach, nothing could stop them. Just so long as 5% of the apartments are “affordable.”

Surfers and environmentalists have seen right through this scheme. This isn’t Gov. Brown’s first time bullying surfers. Back in February, his appointed Coastal Commissioners launched a coup and threw out the Coastal Commission’s executive director, Dr. Charles Lester, who was beloved by surfers and the public. Gov. Brown’s reaction? His silence is still deafening.

But why is Gov. Brown, the man who signed the Coastal Act into law back in 1976, when he was last governor, now trying to destroy it? Back then, Gov. Brown was called “Moonbeam” for his visionary ideas, and surfers greatly benefited. For decades, the Coastal Commission has worked hard to open private beaches to the public and save public beaches from being closed.

Soon after Gov. Brown signed the bill, though, he began to clash with the Coastal Commission. When a big fire burned Malibu homes, many surfers saw an opportunity. The Coastal Commission could condition new building permits on providing public access to private Malibu beaches. Gov. Brown’s response? He called them “coastal bureaucratic thugs.”

But who is the thug now? Gov. Brown has the same goal as the elitist thugs in Palos Verdes. Just like the Bay Boys, he wants to kick out surfers and everyone else, so that only the one percenters can enjoy your public beaches.

Editor’s Note: You can see Sierra Club California’s Petition here. And you can learn more about the Coastal Commission’s hearings here