It was announced last Thursday that Hermosa Beach Mayor Jeff Duclos was chosen to serve as the California Coastal Commission’s South Coast alternate appointee, representing Los Angeles and Orange counties. Long Beach vice Mayor Robert Garcia will be the main appointee.
“I’m excited about it,” said Duclos. “It’s quite a privilege and it’s a major accomplishment to be appointed to a position like that.”
As the alternate, Duclos will serve as the South Coast’s voting member of the commission whenever Garcia cannot attend a meeting. Even as the alternate member, Duclos plans to attend every meeting.
“I feel really fortunate,” said Duclos. “Who knows why things work out in the way they do in terms of where we end up with things. For me, it’s a wonderful thing at this point in my career.”
The position was vacated by former mayor of Santa Monica Richard Bloom, who was voted to the 50th Assembly District.
“As soon as I realized that Bloom was not going to be on the Coastal Commission anymore, and knowing that he had a seat that was a local elected city official from L.A. or O.C, I put my thinking cap on and said, ‘Who do I know that would be good for that?’ I called people I was acquainted with, and once Duclos was alerted to it he took the ball and rolled with it,” Palos Verdes Sierra Club head Al Sattler said.
Duclos is the first Hermosa Beach city official to be elected to the Coastal Commission. Local environmental advocate Dency Nelson headed the campaign to secure Duclos’ seat on the board.
“Often the appointment is done quietly… with little publicity or exposure,” said Nelson, who organized a letter- writing campaign on the mayor’s behalf. “We really did try to flood the senator’s [Betsy Butler] office with letters emphasizing how good it would be to have the perspective of someone from one of the smaller beach communities sitting on the commission. To a certain extent we were heard — he’s the alternate.”
According to a release, the mayor has supported many environmental actions, including banning the use of polystyrene food containers. He also served with the U.S Coast Guard Reserve, where one of his responsibilities was patrolling the San Diego Harbor for water pollution violations.
“It’s an important time for the Coastal Commission and an important opportunity to be a part of it,” said Duclos. “There are so many major issues that are before the commission.”
Duclos grew up near the coast and has spent time talking to both the Coastal Commission and city council on behalf of coastal protection.
“There’s interesting parallels in terms of my career path,” said Duclos. “I think my work at city council has prepared me to do this job, where as if this opportunity had come my way when I was doing coastal activism I don’t think I would have been prepared. When you’re persuing a specific interest you’re interested in your side of the argument; when you’re at city council you have to learn to listen to all sides of the argument. It’s really helped me prepare.”
He is especially interested in seeing that the coastal cities complete their local coastal plans.
“The original plan was that each of the small cities would have their own coastal plan that would be a specific area that would meet the criteria of the coastal act and be specific for them,” said Duclos. “For the most part they’ve been successful; they have an 80 percent completion, but we are one of the cities that does not, and I know for a fact that has not served us well.”
He hopes to incentivise the last 20 percent of the cities, including Hermosa, to finish their plans.
“We need 100 percent participation,” said Duclos. “Ultimately it’s the local cities that will be on-the-ground enforcement.”
Another issue important to Duclos is the sea rise and what that means to our coast in terms of development. He is also interested in redefining the process regarding cooling purposes and desalination where power plants and coastal dependency are concerned. “The question is, is that the best use of our coastal resources? These are huge issues,” Duclos said.
“It’s the kind of challenge I’m excited to participate in,” said Duclos. “Eyes wide-open, I know it’s a very demanding position, but I’m prepared.”