The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), joined by 10 other groups, has called on the State Senate to conduct oversight hearings to address Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decision, announced Monday, March 17, not to renew the terms of Santa Monica City Councilmember Bobby Shriver and Clint Eastwood as Chairman and Vice-Chairman, respectively, of the California State Park and Recreation Commission.
In a March 25 letter signed by Joel Reynolds, NRDC Urban Program Director in Santa Monica, the NRDC – joined by Surfrider Foundation, Sierra Club, and California State Parks Foundation, among others – asked State Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata and Sen. Darrell Steinberg, who chairs the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water, to “conduct oversight hearings in which the role of our State Parks and open spaces – and the independence of the Commissions whose duty it is to protect them – may be addressed.”
The letter reviewed the Governor’s failure to reappoint Shriver and Eastwood, calling them “two of the most visible and effective State Park Commissioners following their public opposition” to the “controversial Foothill-South Toll Road, a six-lane highway through the heart of the state park at San Onofre State Beach.” Schwarzenegger had supported the toll road proposal, which was rejected last month by the California Coastal Commission.
Shriver, who is Gov. Schwarzenegger’s brother-in-law, said that he was “quite surprised” by Schwarzenegger’s decision not to reappoint him. “I had every expectation to be reappointed,” he told the Mirror. Shriver and Eastwood were first appointed to the Commission under former Gov. Gray Davis and had been reappointed by Schwarzenegger.
The NRDC letter says the failure to reappoint Shriver and Eastwood “brings into question the independence of the very government body whose essential role is to safeguard California’s state parks from development encroachments.” The letter also criticizes “sweeping budget cuts and state park closures.”
The State Park and Recreation Commission will hold public hearings in Northern and Southern California seeking creative ideas for funding parks in the hope of avoiding park closures and maintaining continuous public use. Local state parks threatened with closure are Will Rogers State Historic Park and Topanga State Park.
The Southern California hearing will be held in the East Wing Meeting Room of the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1855 Main Street, on Wednesday, April 16, at 6 p.m. “Maybe I’ll go and say a few words to the Commission,” said Shriver.