OCEANSIDE, Calif., Oct. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The California Coastal Commission has voted to oppose Proposition 26, the ballot initiative that would require a 2/3 super majority vote of the Legislature in order to pass routine fees. Commissioners were particularly concerned with how the measure could weaken California's coastal protection laws. Proposition 26, if passed, could block the ability of local governments and the Commission from protecting public access and recreational opportunities, sensitive habitats, and low cost overnight accommodations by eliminating so-called "in lieu" fees. "In lieu fees allow sensible development to proceed while protecting important public resources," said Bonnie Neely, the Commission's Chairwoman. "Without them, the impacts can't be mitigated."
Dubbed the "Polluter Protection Act" by opponents, Proposition 26 would overturn a 1993 California Supreme Court decision, Sinclair Paint Co. v. State Board of Equalization. In that case, the court ruled unanimously that companies have to be accountable for the harm their products cause. The court ruled that it was proper for the state to assess fees on oil and paint companies, whose products are major sources of lead pollution, in order to cover the costs associated with protecting citizens and the environment from toxic lead poisoning. Prop 26 would require a 2/3 vote of the legislature before such fees could be levied.
"This is a cynical ploy by developers and polluters to trick voters into thinking Prop 26 will save them money," said Neely. "It won't. It will shift the cost of cleaning up their messes to the public, instead of their shareholders where it belongs. Prop. 26 lets polluters off the hook."
In California, a 2/3 supermajority vote is required to raise taxes, such as income or sales tax. Fees can be applied by a simple majority vote. Prop 26 would expand the definition of "tax" to include most fees, making it nearly impossible to hold developers or manufacturers financially responsible for the environmental damage they cause.
"Giving a slim minority the power to block a fee increase is inherently anti-democratic," said Neely. "Prop 26 will hurt average citizen taxpayers while giving a huge windfall to corporate polluters. Prop 26 allows Wall Street to ransack Main Street."
CONTACT: Peter Douglas, Executive Director, +1-415-407-3208; or Sarah Christie, Legislative Director, +1-916-747-1164
SOURCE California Coastal Commission