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California Coastal Commission fires Executive Director Charles Lester

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fallA high-profile firing at the California Coastal Commission is raising questions about the future of the state's public beaches (KGO-TV)

A high-profile firing at the California Coastal Commission is raising questions about the future of the state's public beaches.

The man cleaning out his desk is Charles Lester. "It's been a privilege to serve the commission as the executive director for the last 4.5 years," he said.

The decision came after an eight hour public hearing. "The whole place was packed with save doctor Lester, save the coast signs," said Frank Egger, former coastal commissioner.

Egger was the first person appointed to the Coastal Commission, which was formed in 1972.

It protects public access to California's beaches and has the final say on what's built there. "We're seeing it right now in Pacifica, buildings are dropping off the cliffs. That's because they were built too close to the cliffs," Egger said.

He watched as speaker after speaker asked for Lester to stay.

Environmentalists concluded that it must be political. "Folks are looking to develop, they're looking at profits out there. And he's been the person kind of standing in their way," Egger said.

The commissioners continue to be tight-lipped about their reasons for the firing, criticizing environmentalists and the media for bringing politics into what they call a personnel issue.

The commissioners said it has more to do ongoing disagreements about Lester's management style.

All four of Governor Jerry Brown's appointees were among those who voted to dismiss Lester.

Egger said the governor's had a love-hate relationship with the commission.

ABC7 News didn't hear back from the commission's chairman and two companies that develop land along the coast declined to comment.

"There could be severe damage done along the coast here with the wrong person in that job and so that's why we're all concerned," Egger said.

Related Topics:
politicsbeachesPacifica
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