California coast loses a champion

The California coast and all Californians lost a true champion this week:  Peter Douglas. As the muscle behind the nation’s strongest coastal protection law, and as the heart and soul of the California Coastal Commission, for which he served as Executive Director for 26 years, Peter did more than anyone to protect the breathtaking, world-famous 1,100 miles of the California coast. Peter was fond of reminding us: ‘The coast is never saved. It’s always being saved.’ In Peter’s memory, let us all re-dedicate ourselves to protecting the beautiful California coast for future generations.

– Sarah Rose, CEO, and Rick Zbur, Chair of the Board
California League of Conservation Voters

Additional comments from several members of CLCV:

Tom Adams, CLCV Board member and former Board President:

“As Peter stood up to protect California’s incredible coast, he also stood in the cross-hairs of some of the most powerful politicians in California.  He out-maneuvered, out-flanked, and out-played them all.  He should be remembered not just as a protector, but as an incredibly talented figure, motivated by powerful idealism, but relying on finely honed political skills to protect California’s environment.”

Annie Notthoff, CLCV Board member:

“Nobody in California has made a bigger difference in the way our 1,100 mile long coastline looks than Peter Douglas, who spent more than 40 years fighting for the land and wildlife that make their home along this western edge of the continent.  Peter kept his fighting spirit and his pugnacious defense of nature until the end. I had a chance to see him last week and have a nice chat in the desert sun at his sister’s house. He seemed at peace. Little did I know that four days later he would be gone. As Peter said so well: ‘It’s the public access that hasn’t been lost… It’s the wetlands that weren’t filled. It’s the scenic vistas that weren’t destroyed. It’s what we don’t see that’s our major accomplishment.’”

See Annie’s blog about the California Coastal Commission and Peter Douglas here:

David Allgood, CLCV Political Director:

“To the Commissioners and staff that worked with Peter, it was clear that the California coast was the consuming passion of his life. Those who treasure California’s amazing coast owe him a great debt of gratitude.”

Wendy Mitchell, CLCV Board member:

“The lifelong work that Peter Douglas did to advocate for the California coast, which we all hold so dear, leaves an irreplaceable legacy for future generations. It is critical to continue to protect this treasure that belongs to all of us.”

Steve Blank, CLCV Board member:

“There’s an old political science rule of thumb that says regulatory agencies become captured by the industries that they regulate within seven years. Yet for the 26 years of Peter’s tenure he managed to keep the commission independent in spite of enormous pressure. The Commission has been able to stave off the tragedy of the commons for the California coast… Peter opened the commission up to public participation and promoted citizen activism. He built a world-class staff who understand what public service truly means. Over the last 40 years the winners have been 37 million Californians and the people who drive down the coast and can’t imagine why it looks like it does.”

See Steve’s blog post on Peter Douglas, written at the time of Peter Douglas’ retirement, here:

Posted on April 3, 2012


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