Let me assure Tribune readers that the Coastal Commission has not been “bought out by a Facebook millionaire,” as suggested by Cindy Anderson in a recent letter.
The commission staff investigated immediately upon receiving a complaint about illegal development at the Ventana Campground and issued a cease-and-desist order. However, the construction was complete at that point, and any impacts associated with it had already occurred. Mr. Parker had to leave the structures in place anyway until the commission had a chance to finalize the terms and conditions of the settlement.
Staff worked around the clock to finalize the terms and conditions of the settlement in time to get it on the commission’s June agenda. That settlement included payment of $2.5 million in penalties, all of which will be spent improving public access and coastal resources in the Big Sur area, and none of which go to the commission. It also orders the Ventana Inn and Spa to re-open the campground to the public.
Far from being a “buy off,” this makes the best of a bad situation and will ultimately provide for greater environmental protection and more public benefit. But it’s been gratifying to see collective national public opinion expressed so vigorously about the need to do a better job of protecting California’s coast.