California Coastal Commission - Governor names three to panel

Published May 26, 2004 - written by Ann E. Mahinow

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made three appointments Tuesday to the high-profile Coastal Commission, including a Stanford law professor and an executive with the talent agency that represented the governor when he was an actor.

The three, all Republicans, are Meg Caldwell of Saratoga, who has directed Stanford's Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Public Policy Program since 1994; Steven Kram of Los Angeles, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the William Morris Agency; and Bonnie Neely of Eureka, a Humboldt County supervisor and former coastal commission member.

Environmentalists expect the three to largely maintain the pro-environment majority of the commission, which influences decisions about what gets built along California's thousand-mile coastline.

"These appointments are going to reflect the governor's legacy, and if they are as strong as his rhetoric on the environment, then we are in for a real treat," said Mark Massara, the Sierra Club's coast advocate.

Critics of the commission were unfamiliar with the records of the appointees and reserved judgment.

"I'm hoping we will see more respect for the landowners along the coast than the commission has shown in recent years," said James Burling of the Pacific Legal Foundation, which is supporting a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of the commission.

Commission member Dave Potter, a Monterey County supervisor, said Tuesday it was too early to weigh in on the appointees' qualifications, but he was pleased that appointments had been made. The trio will replace three appointees of former Gov. Gray Davis, and at least two of the positions have been vacant.

"I'm glad to see the governor finally making appointments," Potter said. "We'd been left in limbo for a long time, and it's time to get on with it."

Schwarzenegger still has one appointment to make, which by law must be an elected official. POtter said the expectation has been that the appointee will come from the San Luis Obispo or Santa Maria area.

Caldwell has been an instructor at San Jose State University, an attorney in the environmental practice of a private firm and a policy analyst at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She is on the board of Waterkeepers Northern California.

Before joining William Morris in 1988, Kram was an attorney with the American Broadcasting Company. His record on coastal issues in unknown. Kram contributed $5,000 to Californians for Schwarzenegger during last year's recall election, according to the Secretary of State's records.

Neely was considered a compromise candidate among those nominated from the North Coast. She has balanced the interest of developers and environmentalists as a Humboldt supervisor. Neely served on the Coastal Commission from 1988-93 as an appointee of former Republican Gov. George Deukmejian.


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