When Chula Vistans ousted Steve Padilla from the mayor’s seat Nov. 7, they also created a vacancy on the California Coastal Commission, a politically powerful body that oversees development along the state’s coastal zones.

Local politicos are saying that San Diego City Councilman Ben Hueso is the frontrunner to fill the post after he was nominated by the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. The councilman has expressed interest in the position and is boyhood friends with Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, who makes the appointment. However, Hueso said he has not spoken to Nuñez about the appointment.

“I think we’ve been friends since our high school years, but we have not necessarily kept in touch,” Hueso said.

Hueso explained in an interview today why he wants to sit on the commission:

I represent a district of working families, lower-income families, and it would be a good opportunity to put someone on the Coastal Commission who represents people who have the least access to waterfront. The water is not exclusively for rich people.

The appointment comes at a time when the state panel will be revisiting its study of the Navy Broadway Complex. The commission will be asked to make revisions to the growth plans for the Unified Port District of San Diego and the Chula Vista shoreline to make way for a proposed 560-acre development along the city’s bay front, which is slated to include a convention center, resort, wetlands park and condominiums. The Chargers are also negotiating with National City about locating a new stadium on the city’s harbor, which would require the commission’s review.

An aide to Nuñez said the nominations are due by Dec. 30 and that the speaker will make his appointment by the end of January.


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