Assembly Approves Stone Bill Improving Transparency in Coastal Commission Proceedings

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO—The California Assembly has approved legislation by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) to require that people who lobby the Coastal Commission register as lobbyists subject to public disclosure laws.

“This bill makes a necessary change to the law to ensure that decisions made by Commissioners have appropriate standards of disclosure and public scrutiny.  The actions of the Coastal Commission have a profound impact on the lives of Californians, so Californians should be able to find out who is working to influence decisions that Commissioners make,” said Stone. 

AB 2002 requires people who communicate with Coastal Commission members regarding an administrative action of the Commission, and who qualify as a lobbyist, to comply with provisions of the Political Reform Act of 1974, which regulates the activities of individuals who are paid to engage a state entity on a legislative or administrative action. Individuals who are subject to these requirements must report to the Fair Political Practices Commission who their employer is, how much compensation is received for their work, and on what issues they are working.

Stone introduced the measure following the Commission’s controversial vote to remove its long-time Executive Director Dr. Charles Lester at a hearing at which virtually uninterrupted public comment indicated the public’s strong support for the director and his pro-coastal protection policies.  In a public letter to the Commission’s staff, Stone argued that legislation was needed to “end the unethical, opaque practice of allowing lobbyists to lobby Commissioners without the public’s knowledge on who is being represented or what is being requested.” 

Assemblymember Levine (D-Marin County), joint author of the bill, added, “The public has entrusted the Coastal Commission to act as stewards of California’s coast. The public has a right to know who is trying to influence Commissioners’ votes. This legislation will bring desperately needed transparency to the perception of back room deal making at the Commission.”

Stone’s proposed law is also jointly authored by Assembly Speaker Emeritus Toni Atkins (D-San Diego). 

The measure will next be considered by a policy committee in the Senate.