Good morning, California.

“We all have our moments—there are still tears out here, eight months later.” — Denise Walden Cooper, a member of the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade, whose members toil to find the bodies of Lydia Sutthithepa, age 2, and Jack Cantin, 17, who were killed in the Montecito landslide in January.

Beach access, north and south

Martins Beach, near Half Moon Bay.

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla lost his long-running battle to restrict access to Martins Beach on Monday, as the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal.

Background: California voters in 1972 approved an initiative ensuring public access to beaches. In 2008, Khosla, a billionaire known for his environmentalist stands, bought 89 acres above Martins Beach in San Mateo County.

  • He locked the gate to the access road in 2009, prompting a court challenge. After losing in state courts, he pressed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A seemingly small issue: Khosla contended the California Coastal Commission could not require that he obtain a permit before padlocking the gate. Property rights and beach access advocates alike saw Khosla’s challenge as one that could have unraveled California’s Coastal Act.

Without comment, the eight justices declined to review the case.

  • The Mercury News quoted Khosla as saying he’d apply for the permit, but also might sue.

Burlingame attorney Joe Cotchett, representing the Surfrider Foundation, which sued to gain access: “Beaches are public in California, and the immensely wealthy must comply with the Coastal Act just like everyone else.”

Addendum: Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation Sunday night that could have forced access to 8.5 miles of the coast at Hollister Ranch in Santa Barbara County, an issue that dates to his first years as governor.

  • The governor’s veto message urged state agencies to develop “a sensible and fiscally responsible” solution to the issue, one of the more emotional ones in California law.

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What’s left on Brown’s plate

Now that Gov. Jerry Brown is done signing 1,016 bills and vetoing 201, one major task remains before his time in office ends:

Remind me: Brown has placed three justices on the seven-member court in his second stint as governor.

  • But he has left one vacancy, that of Supreme Court Justice Kathryn Werdegar, unfilled for more than a year.
  • The delay has led to much speculation, including that he wanted to wait until after Aug. 31 to ensure the final justice would not face voters in 2018, but rather in 2022. His aides call that theory bunk.

So what’s the timing? Brown’s spokesman said he keep us posted.

Whomever Brown selects, confirmation by the three-member commission that confirms justices will be much smoother than what’s happening in Washington, D.C.

Political factors: For the five weeks, Brown will be deeply involved in protecting the gasoline tax he pushed for last year and defeating Proposition 6, the initiative on the November ballot to repeal that tax.

 


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A union un-endorses a Democrat

Orange County GOP Rep. Mimi Walters and Democratic challenger Katie Porter.

An ad opposing California’s new gasoline tax has cost Orange County Democrat Katie Porter the endorsement of the laborers’ union—potentially a hit for the UC Irvine law school professor challenging Republican Congresswoman Mimi Walters in one of the nation’s most hotly contested races.

Remind me: Porter is challenging two-term incumbent Walters for the Irvine-area congressional seat.

  • She was narrowly leading Walters in a recent New York Times-Siena College poll.

Congressional Republicans funded the petition drive to place Proposition 6 on the Nov. 5 ballot, believing they can use it as an issue to get their base to the polls and hold onto their seats.

  • Walters donated $135,000 to the measure.

Porter told me she intends to vote for Proposition 6, the initiative to repeal the 12-cent per gallon tax.

  • She called the tax “regressive,” meaning it takes a larger bite from low-income workers’ money than from wealthier people and said the $5 billion it would raise annually would do little to help congestion in her district.

In the interview, Porter took aim at Walters, citing her 2017 vote for President Donald Trump’s tax overhaul, which cuts taxes for corporations and some individuals but will raise taxes on many Californians.

Porter: “She didn’t stand up for her constituents and did exactly what Donald Trump told her to do. I will stand up to leaders in both parties.”

Wedge issue: The Laborers’ International Union of North America has spent $3.4 million to oppose Proposition 6. The union, whose members build bridges and roads, said Porter’s opposition to the gas tax is in “direct conflict with the values of LIUNA and its membership.” A major local of the operating engineers also revoked its endorsement of Porter over her stand.

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A man’s #MeToo allegation of retaliation

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia

Daniel Fierro, the political consultant who has accused Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia of sexual harassment, has filed a claim alleging that Garcia and another assemblywoman are retaliating against him by undermining his business.

Remind me: In February, Politico reported that Fierro accused Garcia of groping him after a legislative softball game.

  • Garcia’s out-front advocacy of the #MeToo movement had gained her national attention.
  • An Assembly investigation initially was inconclusive. That prompted Fierro to appeal. With that appeal pending, he has filed a new complaint alleging that his civil rights are being violated.

He contends Garcia and Orange County Democrat Sharon Quirk-Silva are interfering with his political consulting business, trying to dissuade public entities from doing business with him.

  • The Los Angeles Times quotes both lawmakers denying the allegations.

Democrats are displaying “blatant disregard for a male victim,” the complaint also alleges, noting that Sen. Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles and Assemblywoman Laura Friedman of Glendale each donated to Garcia’s reelection.

  • The complaint says they “are clearly only champions of victims who are female.”

Commentary from CALmatters

Dan Walters: Although most California voters appear to oppose new gas taxes and car fees, a misleading title on Proposition 6, a ballot measure to repeal them, could doom its passage.

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