Following a long and inspiring day of compelling public testimony from hundreds of attendees from all over the state in support of retaining Executive Director Charles Lester, CA Coastal Commissioners went into closed session and voted 7-5 to fire him. Commissioners with the most anti-conservation voting record (Diaz, Howell, Mitchell, Turnbull-Sanders, Vargas, McClure, Uranga) voted to fire Lester, giving no compelling reason to do so. Commissioners with the most pro-conservation voting record (Shallenberger, Groom, chair Kinsey, vice chair Bochco, Luevano) voted to retain Lester.
Commissioner Carole Groom, who is also a San Mateo County Supervisor, spoke in open session saying Lester leads by accomplishment and that the proposal to replace him is absolutely wrong. She also said Supervisor Don Horsley is very pleased with CCC staff that covers SMC coast and fully supports Lester. SMC Community Development Director Steve Monowitz was among the speakers at the hearing and gave a powerful endorsement of Lester. State Senator Jerry Hill was a signer on a letter from 16 state legislators in support of Lester.
Senior deputy director Jack Ainsworth will lead the agency until a replacement director is selected.