Coastal cities ban together to create bigger political voice

REGION — Oceanside joined fellow Southern California cities to form the Concerned Coastal Communities Coalition (CCCC) and unite as a bigger political voice on state and federal issues.

The CCCC was established in spring 2016 and meets monthly at rotating host cities.

The idea behind the coalition is that coastal cities can achieve more at the state and federal level by working together.

“CCCC believes there can be power in numbers,” San Clemente Councilwoman Lori Donchak said. “We are focused on identifying and advocating priority issues for beach cities in San Diego and Orange counties.”

The cities of Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, Oceanside, Dana Point, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, San Clemente and Seal Beach have participated in monthly meetings, which are organized and facilitated by Townsend Public Affairs advocacy services.

This month cities will decide whether to officially join the coalition for a $600 per month fee. Oceanside approved city membership on Jan. 18.

“Most cities have agendized membership to CCCC for upcoming council meetings,” Donchak said.  “Laguna Beach was the first city to join. My city, San Clemente, unanimously approved membership at the Jan. 17 meeting.”

CCCC is member-driven. Member cities initiate speakers, topics and legislation.

The coalition is currently focused on San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) decommissioning, protecting coastal beaches and identifying opportunities to offset costs that are exclusive to coastal city.

Its mission statement is to work together to identify and advocate for consensus driven solutions to common challenges facing coastal communities in Southern California.

CCCC has already taken action to author letters in support of legislation that benefits coastal cities and begin a dialog with state and federal elected officials on beach city issues.

“We’re better together,” Donchak said. “While each of us has unique local needs, there are areas where a single, unified voice can be important.”

The group formed for exactly that reason. Oceanside Councilman Jerry Kern said the idea to create a coalition was sparked when he contacted fellow coastal cities to rally support for the interim storage of spent fuel from SONGS.

Kern said beach cities face a lot of the same issues. He cited SONGS spent fuel storage, short term rentals, sober living units and Coastal Commission approval as common concerns.

“We’re working together to solve issues that address all of our cities, instead of working alone,” Kern said.

Since CCCC formed Kern and Oceanside Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery have been regular attendees.

Oceanside approved CCCC membership in a 4-1 vote. Councilwoman Esther Sanchez voted against joining the coalition, saying the city needs to save money.

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