David Helvarg: The Savior of California's CoastRoundup: Talking About History
David Helvarg is executive director of the Blue Frontier Campaign. His book, "The Golden Shore: — California's Love Affair With the Sea," will be published in 2013.
A good argument can be made that no one since Father Junipero Serra has had as much impact on coastal development in California as Peter Douglas. Douglas, who died a week ago, wrote and helped pass Proposition 20, the California Coastal Commission initiative, in 1972. He wrote the 1976 Coastal Act, worked for the commission from its early days and was its outspoken executive director for more than 25 years despite often fierce opposition, including a nearly successful attempt by then-Gov. Pete Wilson to get rid of him in 1996.
Douglas emigrated from Germany with his family when he was 8. He was raised in California, and after getting his law degree from UCLA went to work for Assemblyman Alan Sieroty of Beverly Hills. This was during the late 1960s and early 1970s, when builders, corporations and government agencies saw California's coast as a vast opportunity for development, including massive Orange County-style planned communities in rural areas and quiet beach towns. They planned to expand Highway 1 to four lanes, with major links to the 101; they envisioned a string of nuclear power plants at Malibu, Moss Landing, Bodega Bay and Point Arena, and water projects, including damming all the coastal rivers of Northern California.
One project in the 1960s proved both visionary and transformative, though perhaps not in the way its developers planned. That was Sea Ranch, the lovely bluff-top second-home community built on a sheep farm on the Sonoma County coast....
comments powered by Disqus
- Ben Carson defends linking gun control to the Holocaust
- Secret CIA Report: Pinochet "Personally Ordered" Washington Car-Bombing
- Mike Huckabee’s 1998 Book Is Full Of Fake Quotes From America’s Founders
- Children should be taught about suffering under the British Empire, Jeremy Corbyn says
- Collateral damage: A brief history of U.S. mistakes at war
- NYT History Book Reviews: Who Got Noticed this Week?
- NC student’s senior thesis selected as top paper sheds light on little-known victory over Jim Crow
- Historian Who Probed Austria’s Nazi Past Begins Sentence for Defrauding State
- Daniel Pipes says we should be worried that immigrants don’t share western values
- Nobel Prize in Literature Awarded to journalist Svetlana Alexievich