ccclogoby Warner Chabot

This November, the California Coastal Commission listened to advice from Californians Aware and backed down on a controversial proposal to micromanage their senior staff.  The twelve-member commission, appointed by state administration and legislative leaders, acts as a land use “planning commission” for the coastal zone of California.

In the interest of “accountability” and “transparency,” the commission has been debating how their Executive Director should produce metrics and performance updates to demonstrate progress on implementing the Commission’s recently adopted Strategic Plan.  The question was the level of detail (metrics) to require for these updates.

The problem, in the eyes of many past Commissioners and NGO leaders, was that some commissioners were seeking a level of metrics that would constitute excessive micromanagement of staff.    The Commission took an hour of public testimony before deliberating for another hour on the subject.

The public testimony was unanimous in its praise of the staff’s professionalism and transparency and in expressing a concern that the commission should not attempt to micromanage the staff.  They commissioners concluded by adopting the recommendation of their Executive Director for a “dashboard” reporting system that would be used in his monthly reports.

Among the materials presented to the Commission was a letter from Californians Aware, which praised the Commission staff’s accountability and transparency based on several audits over a multi-year period.

Outcome:  Unanimous vote to approve the “dashboard” system proposed by the Executive Director to report on Strategic Plan progress.  The Commission reaffirmed their respect for staff independence and professionalism.   They rejected an option to require an excessive level of time-consuming monitoring and reporting that would have diverted staff from its core work.

For More information:  This issue generated major interest among past Commissioners and community leaders.  Testimony was submitted representing 25 NGOs, and ex-commissioners with four decades of experience.  Click here for copies of testimony from NRDC,  Twenty NGO groups and ex-Commissioners Mel Nutter and Pat Kruer.

The public testimony supported the newly adopted Commission Strategic Plan and its focus on sea level rise and the need to update the Local Coastal Plans.

Video: To watch video of this item go to:    Click on CA Coastal Commission in left column, then click Friday, Nov 15th meeting.  Scroll down to the (tan colored) box, entitled Video Viewing Options.  Hit Click Here to start the program.  This item is begins about 30 minutes into the recording.  You can fast forward with the “time” bar at the bottom of the screen.

For more than 30 years, Warner Chabot has managed strategic and successful regional, state, and national programs and campaigns to design, enact and implement landmark environmental laws and policies. His past roles include serving as the Chief Executive Officer of the California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV), the political arm of California’s environmental movement and as Vice President for Campaign Strategies at the Ocean Conservancy, a national ocean policy organization.