AB 250 – Affordable Lodging on the California Coast

As I mentioned in my last post, things have been pretty immigration-heavy, so I have a little California-specific environmental issue to switch it up.

The basics:

  • California has banging beaches. This bill would require the State Coastal Conservancy (an agency that works with the California Coastal Commission), to develop a low-cost lodging program–basically a five-year plan designed to increase the amount of budget lodging near the coast.

Who to call:

In-depth:

The full text of the bill is here.

This time last year, I was racing down the 101 to follow up on the first scoop I had as a state political reporter–the California Coastal Commission’s surprise termination of Executive Director Charles Lester.  I know, we all live and breathe following the twists and turns of state regulatory agencies.

I’m kidding–I get that not everyone actually knows or cares what the California Coastal Commission does, so let me explain why it matters. I grew up in an idyllic southern California beach town. My public high school had a nationally-acclaimed surf team and surf P.E. When I visited my cousins on the east coast, I was appalled that they PAID money to visit what seemed to be quite mediocre beaches. In short: I was privileged as hell.

So as I covered last year’s shocking movements at the Coastal Commission, I empathized with the environmentalists who treasured so passionately the incredible beach access that the commission’s existence has provided. But I know that such access is not as easy for all Californians as the two mile jog from my high school campus was for me. Both environmental advocates and commissioners who voted to remove Lester conceded this reality and the commission’s responsibility to remedy it.

This bill emerged in the aftermath of that controversy, and with a new executive director at the helm, it presents an opportunity for the commission to redeem itself.

Here are a couple questions I would ask if I was interviewing committee members, coastal conservation advocates, and the Commission itself:

  • What kind of proposals would the State Conservancy consider?
  • What role would the Coastal Commission or other agencies play in implementing such a plan?
  • How would you control for economic demand driving up the prices of lodging?
  • Will there be efforts alongside this development of low-cost lodging to make connections between lower-income inland communities and opportunities to explore the coast? (e.g. school trips, subsidized summer camps, public or low cost private transportation between inland communities and beaches)

News coverage:

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