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June 8, 2013
Editorial: Sweet deal for despoiler of Big Sur

Facebook_Billionaire_Wedding_Sean_Parker.jpg

(June 8 -- By the Editorial Board)

We wish bride and groom well, and forgive that we weren't on the guest list that included Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Kamala Harris and 300 other beautiful people.

Sean Parker, the billionaire former Facebook president, and Alexandra Lenas, a singer-songwriter, had a lot on their minds.

The happy couple also forgot to get Coastal Commission approval before bringing in a nuptial bulldozer to grade a public campground at Ventana Inn & Spa.

According to a Coastal Commission report, wedding workers built a gateway, an artificial pond, a stone bridge, elevated floors, rock walls, artificial ruins of castle walls, rock stairways and a dance floor, and brought in 125 potted trees, tents, generators and lighting.

By the time the state learned of the work in mid-May, the damage was done. The staff considered shutting down the $4.5 million wedding. But love was in the air, even at the Coastal Commission.

Besides, entitled people like Sean Parker can buy their way out of certain predicaments. He agreed to pay $2.5 million to the state, and the wedding went ahead on June 1. The commission is expected to approve the settlement on Friday.

Parker dabbles in politics, having donated $13,000 to Newsom and $100,000 to the 2010 initiative to legalize marijuana. But the commission's staff says Parker's friends didn't intervene. Nor, evidently, did the governor-in-waiting or the chief lawyer question creating a Hollywood-like set in Big Sur.

Love being a splendored thing, some good could come of it all. Parker's $2.5 million payment will be used to reopen the campground that had been closed since 2007.

Parker settled. Others who despoil the coastal zone balk, forcing litigation. Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, is carrying Assembly Bill 976 to give the commission authority to fine people who knowingly violate the California Coastal Act.

Business interests oppose the legislation. But 21 agencies have such authority. The commission that is supposed to protect California's magnificent coast ought to have the same power. Perhaps Parker could lobby some lawmakers, after his honeymoon.

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