Update: Thursday 12:25 p.m. Between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, Gavin Newsom mysteriously changed the job description on his website to eliminate all references to the Coastal Commission. Check out bottom of the story for screenshots of the new descriptions.
Original Story 6/5: A 2.5 million dollar settlement with the Coastal Commission is just a cost of doing business if you're a disgustingly rich Facebook guru. And it only accounted for one fifth the overall tab for Sean Parker's lavish, non-environmental, celebrity-studded, Game of Thrones-style wedding ceremony in a protected redwood grove in Big Sur.
Enabled by a backroom deal that Parker cut with the Ventana Inn -- a high-end resort that abuts an ancient forest and a creek teeming with steelhead trout -- the wedding included an artificial pond, switchback stairways, fake ruins, and extra foliage that required Parker's construction team to dig out, bulldoze, and otherwise molest areas of highly sensitive natural forest.
According to Coastal Commission reports, his unpermitted development may have caused soil erosion and damage to individual trees. It probably deposited loads of sediment into Post Creek. Atlantic writer Alexis Madrigal characterized the ceremony not only as a "parable of Silicon Valley excess," but also as the worst side of that old timeworn tech credo: Disrupt. Move fast. Break things.
Thus far, no one has divined whether Newsom's fingerprints are on this deal. His website says that he rotates with State Controller John Chiang as chair of the three-member State Lands Commission, which oversees leasing of millions of acres of state-owned land and permitting of water channels in California. He also serves as a member to the California Ocean Protection Council. Interestingly, he also campaigned on a rather bullish environmental platform, claiming not only that he would work to conserve California's precious natural resources, but that he would "work to secure permanent funding solutions for the California Coastal Commission."
But Parker donated $13,000 to Newsom's campaign for lieutenant governor, which suggests that the two of them might be (un)comfortably close. We have yet to hear Newsom's report back from the wedding -- calls to his office weren't returned this morning.
To be fair, $2.5 million is no small change for the Coastal Commission. But at least one wag thought Parker got off easy. After all, it's often preferable to ask forgiveness than permission.
Here's the old description:
And the new one: