California coastal commission votes to oust top executive

- The powerful agency that manages development on California's fabled coastline has voted to oust its top executive.

The 7-5 vote by the California Coastal Commission came after an impassioned hearing of nearly 12 hours Wednesday in Morro Bay that ended in the ouster of Executive Director Charles Lester.

Dozens of witnesses, from environmentalists to surfers, spoke in support of Lester's leadership and warned that his dismissal could open the way for unchecked development.

The commission then went into closed session and when they emerged, Lester was quickly dismissed.

Lester got an ovation from some in the crowd and said he was disappointed but it was a privilege to serve.

The shake-up raised questions about the direction of an agency often caught in the clash between property rights and conservation.

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