State Coastal Commission’s newest member joins with focus on environmental justice


OCT. 15, 2021 9:04 AM PT

IMPERIAL BEACH —  Imperial Beach Councilmember Paloma Aguirre was sworn in last week to join the California Coastal Commission.

She was appointed by state Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon to serve as an alternate to Steve Padilla, who is the board’s chairman and a Chula Vista council member.

“Having gone for many years to give comment and testify before the commission and now to actually have a seat on the other side, if you will, means everything to someone like me. So, it’s a huge honor,” she said.

As an alternate, Aguirre will step in to serve on matters of the board in Padilla’s absence. The 12-member commission, an independent and quasi-judicial state agency, plans and regulates the use of land and water along California’s 1,100-mile coastline.

“Councilmember Paloma Aguirre’s expertise and experience in coastal policy is unrivaled, and she has been an unwavering champion in tackling South County’s greatest environmental challenges,” Padilla said in a statement. “I recommended her to Speaker Rendon because she was the clear and obvious choice to serve as my alternate on the Coastal Commission.”

The Imperial Beach council member said she is joining the commission with a focus on “looking at things that are through an environmental justice lens.”

Aguirre added that her background has helped shape and refine the topics she is passionate about. She was born in San Francisco and raised in Mexico before becoming a first-generation, Mexican American student at UC San Diego, where she earned her master’s degree in marine biodiversity and conservation. In 2016, she worked for U.S. Senator Cory Booker in Washington, D.C., as a Sea Grant Knauss fellow with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, focusing on drafting and passing legislation aimed at reducing waste in oceans.

“I’ve been here for almost two decades now and I’m particularly focused on our fight for clean water in Imperial Beach and fighting the pollution related to the Tijuana River, which includes sewage and solid waste,” said Aguirre.

“I feel strongly about being a voice for the voiceless. That’s kind of my moral compass in everything I do. I think about those that don’t have, for example, coastal access,” she added. “I think that’s huge, especially for underserved or disadvantaged communities. That’s something that I’ll definitely keep front and center.”

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