California Coastal Commission responds to report it worsens housing crisis: ‘Disgraceful’

The California Coastal Commission Thursday said a soon-to-be-published report alleging it has worsened the affordable housing crisis has “profoundly dishonest and offensive” claims.

Circulate San Diego, a Southern California think thank, asserts in a study to be published Friday that the commission has worsened the affordable housing crisis, and “has made the coast the least accessible part of California.”

The findings were published in Thursday’s Bee, and later in the day, the commission fired back.

“This disgraceful excuse for a report intentionally distorts and misrepresents actions taken by the Coastal Commission,” said Coastal Commission Chair Caryl Hart in a statement to The Bee.

“It even goes so far as to say the commission is manipulating the law to promote racial segregation in the Coastal Zone, which is profoundly dishonest and offensive.”

The report, which The Bee has reviewed, cited research showing that the Coastal Zone is twice as white as the rest of California.

“The report is clearly a developer-backed hit piece masquerading as an academic endeavor,” said Hart.

Circulate San Diego was created in 2014. Its executive director is Democrat Colin Parent, a City Councilman from La Mesa who is currently running for a seat in the California Assembly.

“The industries behind this effort are the same ones that opposed the passage of the Coastal Act in 1976 and continue to fight common-sense environmental protections today,” Hart said.

In response to the the report’s claims about the commission exacerbating the affordable housing crisis, Hart said that the state Legislature has historically catered to Realtors and developers, and that the commission has long warned against doing so.

“Despite warnings that the Coastal Zone would turn into an ‘enclave for the wealthy,’ the California Legislature, at the behest of Realtors and developers, removed the Coastal Commission’s ability to require affordable housing in 1981,” Hart said.

There was one item the two organizations agreed on: where the California Legislature needs to intervene.

“The Legislature should take a skeptical view to any demands by the Coastal Commission for more authority over housing of any kind,” the report reads.

Hart had her own recommendations for the Legislature.

“The Legislature needs to amend the Coastal Act to again enable the commission to protect, encourage and, where feasible, provide affordable housing in the Coastal Zone,” she said.