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The Chief Counsel serves as attorney to the California Coastal Commission (Commission) and the Executive Director, and manages and directs the work of the Legal Division, which is comprised of attorneys, legal analysts, a legal assistant and a legal secretary. The Chief Counsel advises the Commission and Executive Director and all senior management on all legal issues arising from the Commission’s Implementation of the California Coastal Act and California’s Coastal Management Program. The Chief Counsel is the principal contact for City Attorneys and County Counsels for the 76 local governments in the coastal zone, to the legal offices of the Governor, California Natural Resources Agency, and of other public agencies, special districts, commercial ports and the University of California; and is the primary liaison with the California Attorney General’s Office. The Attorney General’s Office handles litigation for the Commission.
Legal issues raised by implementation of California’s Coastal Management Program are complex, diverse, intellectually challenging and often on the cutting edge of land use law in the state and nation. Primary areas of law involve state land and water use law (e.g. Coastal Act, Subdivision Map Act, CEQA); federal law affecting coastal and ocean resources; federal and state constitutional law concerning “takings”; enforcement; and state administrative law, including conflict of interest, ethics, rulemaking and state civil service rules. The Chief Counsel travels to each monthly Commission meeting (3 to 5 days) to advise the Commission and Commission staff on legal matters arising during the meeting.
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California Coastal Commission
The Coastal Commission plans for and regulates development along the California coast pursuant to the California Coastal Act. The Commission’s mission is to protect and enhance the coast and ocean for present and future generations. The agency has broad and strong authority including to protect public access and recreation, sensitive wetlands and coastal habitats, scenic rural and agricultural landscapes, cultural resources, and manage coastal hazards. It is charged with assuring that new development in the coastal zone is supported with adequate public services, including water, wastewater and transportation infrastructure. The Commission is on the front line of responding to sea level rise and other coastal resource impacts due to climate change. The Commission is also a national leader in coastal management and land use issues, and its actions may have implications far beyond the state’s coastal zone. The Commission’s decisions are often controversial, and the agency relies heavily on its legal division and strong relationships with the Attorney General’s office to assure that the Coastal Act is implemented to the fullest extent on behalf of the public. The California Coastal Commission values diversity at all levels of the organization and is committed to fostering an environment in which employees from a variety of backgrounds, cultures, and personal experiences are welcomed and can thrive. We believe the diversity of our employees and their unique ideas inspire innovative solutions to further our mission of protecting and enhancing California’s coast and ocean for present and future generations.