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Meagan: Sacto's Latest Build-Baby-Build Bill Poses Clear and Present Danger to California Coastline

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

Not content with destroying local control over land use planning throughout the rest of California. San Francisco state Senator Scott Wiener now proposes to declare open season for development of the state's iconic coastline.

“This is a huge issue for the coastal commission,” said Santa Barbara city councilmember Meagan Harmon, who also represents the Central Coast on the California Coastal Commission.

“We certainly understand the need for housing, particularly affordable housing, in the coastal zone,” Harmon said, on this week’s edition of Newsmakers TV. “But it’s got to be done in a way that protects that resource that’s so precious to all of us, that thing that makes California Caliofornia, our precious coast.”

Wiener, Twit-S.F., is a native of (checks notes) New Jersey, who has spent his last several years in office doing everything in his power to transform the Golden State into the fetid landscape he doubtless remembers fondly from his youth. Chief Server of the glut of build-baby-build housing legislation that’s been shoved down the throat of local government in recent years, Wiener has a nice racket going, posturing as the tribune of “progressive” housing policy with one hand while raking in tens of thousands in real estate industry campaign contributions with the other.

Now comes his Senate Bill 423 which, among other wonderful things, would allow “by right” housing development along California’s iconic 800 miles of coastline, bypassing local and state planning processes, not to mention public input, if a project includes a certain percentage of so-called “affordable housing.”

As every school child knows, state voters in 1972, motivated by the Santa Barbara oil spill and appropriately anxious that development could cut off public access to the ocean, approved Prop. 20, the California Conservation Initiative (aka “Save Our Coast”), which created the California Coastal Commission to tend to the preservation and protection of the coast.

The Commission implements the 1976 California Coastal Act, which gave the agency permanent authority to adjudicate and oversee land use decisions on the coast. The Commission has voted unanimously to oppose Wiener’s bill, which already has passed the state Senate and is working its way to the Assembly floor.

Harmon, one of the loudest advocates for building more affordable housing in Santa Barbara, said she, along with her colleagues on the Commission, are “very pro-housing,” but that the case-by-case, painstaking approach the agency currently takes towards proposed housing developments would be lost if the Wiener bill becomes law. (Also: more work for lawyers).

“The California Coastal Commission was put into the state Constitution by the voters and it’s not something we can, or should, railroad in this way,” she said. “The voters tasked the commission (to decide on coastal developments) and we’re fighting hard to do that.”

District 6 council representative Harmon also discussed several key city issues with Josh Molina and the genial host, including the simmering controversy over density and height limits on downtown housing projects, as well as the latest developments in Whither State Street?, the long-running civic soap opera now in its eighth decade, at least.

Plus, inquiring minds want to know: exactly when did Meagan Harmon arrive in Santa Barbara anyway?

All this and more, right here, right now on Newsmakers TV.


You can watch our conversation with Megan via YouTube below, or by clicking through this link. The podcast version is here. TVSB, Cox Cable Channel 17, airs the program weeknights at 8 p.m. and at 9 a.m. on the weekend. KCSB, 91.9 FM, broadcasts the show at 5:30 on Mondays.


New Yorker cartoon by Jon Adams.

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