The California legislature has passed a bill to alter the structure of the California Coastal Commission, thereby enabling the powerful board to continue regulating development along the state’s coast. Seven weeks ago, a state appeals court ruled that allowing the legislature to remove commissioners at will violated the state constitution’s mandate to maintain separation of the legislative and executive branches of government. Under the new structure, commissioners appointed by the legislature would serve fixed four-year terms; those appointed by the governor could still be removed at her or his will. Gov. Gray Davis (D) is expected to sign the bill, setting the coastal commission back on course. The commission is responsible for approving or denying development permits in coastal areas and regulating offshore industrial activity. Supporters believe the fix will strengthen the group by making its members less beholden to those who appointed them, but many Republicans fought the bill, saying the commission violates property rights and needs a thorough overhaul.
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