By By Peter Fimrite : sfchronicle – excerpt
San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who has worked for environmental nonprofit groups for three decades, was appointed Thursday to the California Coastal Commission, an agency racked by dissension over the past year after the firing of its executive director.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León appointed Peskin to fill the commission seat representing the North Coast and Central Coast, which was vacated by former Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey, who retired.
The commission, widely considered one of the most powerful and effective coastal-protection agencies in the country, was created by voter initiative in 1972 to regulate development and protect the coastline.
“I am honored, delighted and excited,” Peskin said. “Our coast is under a tremendous amount of pressure. There are a whole slew of issues related to sea-level rise and I look forward to being at the cutting edge on all those matters.”…
Peskin said he will resign his position on the board of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District so he can dedicate more time to the Coastal Commission, which he acknowledged is in the midst of “some tumult.” He will represent an area that includes Marin, San Francisco and Sonoma counties...
The naming of Peskin comes less than a month after commissioners chose Jack Ainsworth, a staffer on the commission for 29 years, as the executive director. That announcement, on Feb. 10, came exactly one year after his predecessor, Charles Lester, was ousted, causing an outcry among environmentalists and others who accused the agency of selling out to developers and Malibu millionaires.
Lester’s opponents on the board cited poor outreach to minority communities and a lack of diversity on the 163-member staff as reasons for his dismissal. Since firing Lester, the commission board has come under fire for meeting with lobbyists before making important decisions.
Peskin’s appointment was supported by the the Sierra Club, the Board of Supervisors and state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco. Wiener said Thursday that the two had not always been on the same side of local issues, but he praised Peskin for his hard work, attention to detail and passion for environmental protection.
“Supervisor Peskin has always been a strong environmentalist, and I’m confident he will be a staunch defender of our coastline as a member of the Coastal Commission,” Wiener said. “It’s as important as ever to have strong, engaged coastal commissioners who can keep the commission on track.”
Peskin served on the Trust for Public Land in the 1980s and was western regional director of the American Land Conservancy from 1990 to 1993. He is currently president of Great Basin Land & Water, a small nonprofit organization focused on protecting water quality in the Truckee River. He is also a member of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, a state planning and regulatory agency.
Peskin said he will resign his position on the board of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District so he can dedicate more time to the Coastal Commission, which he acknowledged is in the midst of “some tumult.” He will represent an area that includes Marin, San Francisco and Sonoma counties.
“I feel like I am coming in at exactly the right time after the dust has settled,” he said. “The commission is now in the forefront of everybody’s mind, and my job is to create relationships with the other members and staff. My background as a lifelong environmentalist is abundantly clear.”
The Coastal Commission is charged with carrying out environmentally sustainable planning and science-based regulation of development along the coast. It has 12 voting members and three nonvoting members who are appointed by the governor, the Senate Rules Committee and the speaker of the Assembly.
Peskin will receive $50 for the monthly meetings and $12.50 for every hour, up to eight, that he needs to prepare for meetings…
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