The California Coastal Commission meets in Arcata in June, the only time in 2017 the quasi-judicial agency will gather this far north. The 12 commissioners and statewide staff will convene at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, June 7 and Thursday, June 8 in Humboldt State University’s Kate Buchanan Room to hear issues concerning the North Coast, as well as issues affecting other areas in the state.
For those new to how the commission works, public comment is a great opportunity to see and hear what fellow citizens are concerned about. Public comment occurs at the start of each day, usually lasts about 30 minutes, and is reserved for items not already on the agenda. For those wishing to bring a non-agendized issue to the commission’s attention, here are some tips on how to do so effectively:
• Before addressing the commission, reach out to local staff to make sure they’re aware of the issue and to make sure it’s something the commission has jurisdiction over. You can find the North Coast branch office in the Greenway Building, 1385 8th St #130, Arcata, and reach staff at 707-826-8950.
• Arrive early and fill out a speaker slip. You’ll find them on a table outside the meeting room with staff available to assist you.
• If you have a visual presentation (PowerPoint, etc.), put it on a flash drive in advance and then hand the drive off to the A/V team, easy to spot in the meeting room. (They’re the ones with all the equipment.)
• Bring your passion—but be polite! Scolding, insulting or otherwise alienating the commissioners isn’t constructive. For the most part, the people at the dais want to hear you and solve the problems brought to them.
• Respect the time limits (at the discretion of the chair: usually three minutes per individual; you may have others cede their time to you to increase your total). Those who go over time risk using up the opportunity others would have had. Treat your fellow citizens as equals.
If you want to speak to an item on the agenda, the latter four points all still apply. The only difference is that you’ll want to include the agenda item on the speaker slip. Do be aware that predicting when the commission will arrive at a particular item is a risky business! Some days the process moves rapidly, some days not so much.
North Coast agenda highlights include Coast Seafoods proposed expansion on Wednesday (item 13) and an application by the City of Eureka on efforts to restore Martin’s Slough on Thursday (item 8b)—note that most North Coast district items will be heard Thursday morning.
The full agenda can be found at coastal.ca.gov.
About the California Coastal Commission
The California Coastal Commission is an independent state agency created by the California Coastal Act of 1976. The mission of the Coastal Commission is to protect, conserve, restore and enhance environmental and human resources of the California coast and ocean for environmentally sustainable and prudent use by current and future generations.
The commission is comprised of 12 voting members and three non-voting ex officio members. The commission meets monthly in different coastal communities up and down the coast. They deliberate the merits of proposed coastal development projects within the 1.5-million acre, 1,100-mile long California coastal zone. The Coastal Act itself provides the policies and standards that must guide the commissioners’ decisions.
The independence, balance and integrity of the commission depend upon the appointment process. Voting members are appointed by California’s Governor, the Senate Rules Committee and the State Assembly Speaker. Each appoints four commissioners, two from the general public and two local elected officials.
To ensure statewide representation, six coastal regions—San Diego, South, South Central, Central, North Central and the North Coast—are designated to have one “local elected” voting member seat. Each commissioner may have an alternate, subject to the approval of their appointing authority.
North Coast Commissioner Ryan Sundberg
The most recent appointment to the Coastal Commission was for the North Coast seat, formerly held by Martha McClure, who lost her appointment when she failed to win reelection to the Del Norte Board of Supervisors. To replace her, Governor Jerry Brown appointed Humboldt County Supervisor Ryan Sundberg to the commission in March. Sundberg has represented the county’s fifth district since 2010 and was a tribal council member at the Trinidad Rancheria from 1994 to 2010.
Keep Up with the Commission
For more information, monthly agendas and a live meeting stream, visit coastal.ca.gov.
To follow some of the most critical issues facing the commission and to keep track of which commissioners are voting most (or least!) in accordance with the Coastal Act, see actcoastal.org.