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CGF In the News
By Paul Rogers
California's image as the land of the Beach Boys, Big Sur and "Baywatch" is well-deserved. And heaven help any politician who is perceived as harming it.
That was the message Wednesday in a new non-partisan poll that found large majorities of California residents identify the coastline as central to their lives and the state's economy, and they want tougher laws to protect and enhance everything on the oceanfront from water quality to wildlife.
Californians support stricter environmental protections along their 1,100-mile shoreline, even if it means further restrictions on private development, limiting where people can fish, more expensive utility bills to reduce water pollution, and higher gasoline prices to stop new offshore oil drilling.
The survey by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), a non-profit research organization in San Francisco established by Hewlett-Packard co-founder William Hewlett, also contains some clues for Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"People want more rather than less involvement from government when it comes to protecting the coast," said Mark Baldassare, research director at PPIC. ``Schwarzenegger is going to have to establish his credentials in the environmental area. Going greener doesn't hurt him in his own party, and it helps him with independents and moderate Democrats."
Thirty-two percent of the poll's respondents say the environment should be "a top priority" for Schwarzenegger, and 57 percent say it should be "an important priority."
The telephone survey of 2,004 adults was conducted between Oct. 24 and Nov. 2. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent.
In a wider sense, by a margin of 49 to 42 percent, California residents say environmental protection should be a priority for state government even if it curbs economic growth. And despite the state's massive budget deficit, 48 percent of Californians support funding environmental programs at current levels, even if it means cutting other state programs, while only 35 percent support reducing environmental funding.
Environmentalists were buoyed by the findings, particularly the call for tougher coastal protections.
"The coast is an icon of California. The public's devotion to it has been fierce and has not wavered," said Warner Chabot, vice president of the Ocean Conservancy, in San Francisco. "It's a place to take your family and your children and your dog and the people you love. It is where you recharge your batteries, whether you are rich or poor."Among the poll's findings:
Page last updated September 13, 2010 .