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The Real Deal Los Angeles

Bill to ban private meetings with the California Coastal Commission defeated in Assembly

Many commissioners have previously failed to disclose their meetings with developers, lobbyists
State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (credit: caregiving.org, Jen Fraser for California Coastal Commission)

State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (credit: caregiving.org, Jen Fraser for California Coastal Commission)

It looks like L.A. developers won’t have to cancel their coffee dates with officials from the California Coastal Commission anytime soon

The state Assembly voted Wednesday against a bill to ban “ex-parte” communication, or correspondence outside the scope of public meetings, between commissioners and developers, labor organizations, environmentalists and business groups, the L.A. Times reported.

Ex-parte contact, as defined by the bill, would have included emails, letters, phone calls and face-to-face meetings. Current policy requires city commissioners to disclose those kinds of meetings within a week of the event, but media reports indicate that many either fail to do so or file very few details.

A previous Times investigation found that most of ex-parte participants are developers and lobbyists who have a financial stake in the commissioners’ decisions.

Supporters of the bill claim the ban would promote open government, prevent corruption and restore confidence in the agency since Charles Lester, the former executive director, was fired in February.

“I am extremely disappointed that this bill will not be moving forward this year,” said Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), who sponsored the measure. “Our coast is not the property of well-connected special interests.”

Opponents counter that the bill would hinder free speech. Groups such as labor representatives, for instance, would have to refrain from communicating their interest in jobs and benefits from projects. [LAT]Cathaleen Chen