continued Because he was on the coastal commission at one time, Peters played a larger role in the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club flap. With the City's approval, the club had placed buoys in the water that made it appear that even the swimming area was off-limits to the general public. In 2003, the California State Lands Commission ruled that neither the City nor the club had the authority or permits to place the buoys. The City applied for vested rights to allow it to place the buoys without a permit. In January of 2005, the coastal commission approved the move 5 to 4, with Peters providing the swing vote.
The Sierra Club filed a suit in superior court challenging the legality of the vested-rights determination. That case is now stayed, as the City seeks a permit for buoy placement. Peters's wife was a member of the beach and tennis club. "It was a bald-faced conflict of interest," says Mark Massara, an attorney for the Sierra Club. "The attorney general had said he [Peters] shouldn't aggressively argue the case on one side or another. But he was a vociferous advocate of the beach and tennis club's position. We thought he defied the attorney general."
Peters says the Ethics Commission advised him that, as a nonvoting honorary member of the Century Club, he did not have a conflict of interest. He denies that the attorney general advised him as Massara states and says he paid for his membership in the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club; it is not an equity interest and is not resellable, he says.
The Sierra Club is not named in the beach and tennis club's suit. However, Massara looks forward to litigation to determine whether the mean high tide line from the 1930s is still relevant. "The only way to resolve this is to undertake new surveys," says Massara. "When we get that information, they will lose. What is going on at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club is nothing short of an outrage."