Campbell (R-Irvine) is an Assemblyman representing the 70th District
in Orange County. Mr. Campbell is the Vice-Chairman of the Assembly
Budget Committee. He is the only CPA in the California State legislature
and recently received a national award as Freshman Republican
Legislator of the Year. He represents the cities of Newport Beach,
Laguna Beach, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Tustin, Aliso Viejo, Laguna
Woods and Lake Forest. He can be reached through his Assembly
and through the website
for his California Senate campaign.
Control not Conservation
A local little guy vs. the California Coastal Commission
[John Campbell] 6/17/03
an unusual and atypical warrior in the fight against the
tyranny of government in California. His name is Rodolphe Streichenberger.
The unusual name and the heavy accent a testimony to his
in the long disputed Alsace/Lorraine provinces of what is
now France. But now, he lives in Balboa and is President and
of the Marine Forests Society. This group is a charitable
organization dedicated to restoring, replenishing and growing
marine habitat off the Coast of Orange County and elsewhere.
(Let’s call him Mr. S to save on printer’s
ink from now on) is joined by distinguished professors and scientists
from Universities including CalTech in his quest to find economical
and effective ways to repopulate plant life and thereby fish
of our coast. As Mr. S sees it, much of the waters off of our
coast have become barren sandy bottomed aquatic wastelands devoid
of the rich plant and animal life that once flourished there.
Whether for commercial or sport fishing, cleaning the ocean water,
or just plain conservation purposes, we will benefit from that
But this costs money.
So, the Marine Forests Society came up with several unique
and inexpensive ways to create artificial
reefs on the sandy bottoms to which plant life can cling and
a new aquatic environment blossoms. These involve the use of
plastic piping and old tires refashioned to make these reefs.
Old tires you say? That’s right. The Society has taken
something that is an environmental hazard on land and turned
it into and environmental benefit at sea. That is only one of
the several methods they have used. But the point is that they
work right off our coastline and they are very cheap and easy
So does this unassuming
scientist and founder of an environmental organization dedicated
to preserving the coast sound like someone
who would be in conflict with the California Coastal Commission?
How can that be, you say? Isn’t Mr. S doing exactly what
the California Coastal Commission wants to be done? If you think
the answer to that is yes, than you do not understand the California
Coastal Commission (Let’s call them CCC for short).
Mr. S is doing what the CCC should want to do, but that is not
what the CCC does. The people thought they were voting to protect
the coastline when they authorized the creation of the CCC in
1976. But what they created instead was an enormously powerful
and abusive organization that has been the subject of numerous
scandals and shakedowns. It has never been about conservation.
It is only about power.
The Act creating the
CCC says that you cannot place “any
solid material or structure” on land or sea within its
jurisdiction without a permit. Ask any coastal resident who has
discovered the necessity of a state CCC permit for such things
as installing a backyard umbrella, putting up a patio cover,
fencing in a garden, or growing avocados rather than grapes.
The CCC says that a city can avoid these things by getting a
local plan adopted by the commission. But the City of Newport
Beach has been unable to acquire approval of such a plan after
more than a decade of trying. In many cases the CCC has extracted
things from the property owners in exchange for granting such
grace. None of these has anything to do with coastal conservation
on already developed land. But the CCC regularly denies such
permits to wield punishment to political enemies and reward political
One of those denials
was issued to the Marine Forests Society when they wanted to
create more aquatic habitat off the coast
of Newport Beach. The City of Newport was all for it. It made
so much sense. But the CCC turned Mr. S down. You see, the CCC
has spent millions of your dollars on mitigation efforts off
of the San Onofre nuclear power station. Hot water from the plant
has killed off the vegetation on the sea bottom. But the CCC’s
efforts are expensive and don’t work. Mr. S says his are
cheap and work. But he is not part of the cartel of power that
supports the CCC so he is rejected while others continue to spend
money on failed efforts.
But Mr. S did not either quietly go away or pay the appropriate
homage (or money) to CCC commissioners. No. He took them to court.
He alleged that the CCC violates the separation of powers in
that it has executive, legislative and judicial powers in one
agency. In other words, it is judge, jury and executioner. Both
a trial court judge and an appeals court have said he is correct.
The power structure
in the state Legislature rapidly cobbled together legislation
to “correct” the deficiency
identified by the court. But Mr. S will be challenging that too
in the California Supreme Court.
Mr. S does not stand
to make a fortune off of this decision. He is not doing it
for punitive damages. He just wants to protect
the environment of the Coast of Orange County where he lives.
But by so doing, he has challenged the power structure and the
very existence of one of the most abusive agencies of California
government (the other being the California Franchise Tax Board – a
story for another day). And he has made himself and his organization
We can all hope that this time, the little guy and the environment
will win. And the power abusers that use environmental causes
to mask their quest to restrict freedom, will lose.