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Coastal Commission Fires Top Staffer

Screenshot from webcast of meeting on www.cal-span.org

Charles Lester gives farewell remarks to the California Coastal Commission late Wednesday night after commissioners voted 7-5 in closed session to dismiss him as executive director.

Screenshot from webcast of meeting on www.cal-span.org

The California Coastal Commission has fired its executive director after a heated debate that pitted environmentalists against developers.

Commissioners voted 7-5 to dismiss Charles Lester during a lengthy closed session late Wednesday night. The move followed a day filled with public testimony, largely by environmentalists who supported him.

After the vote, Lester told the crowd at the commission hearing to be proud of their commitment to California's coastline.

"And so if there's any silver lining, I am so energized by all the people who came together for this," he said.

Past and current governors, Assembly speakers and Senate leaders appointed the 12 coastal commissioners who decided Lester's fate.

Before the commission's vote, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) tweeted an apology to the public and said she "truly thought" her appointees "would be better stewards of the coast."

Gov. Jerry Brown has not commented on the debate over Lester's fate that first came to light nearly a month ago. The three commissioners appointed by Brown all voted to dismiss Lester.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio