The artist also called for an audit of how money from the license plate sales is being spent.
"We are shocked and saddened by this dispute," said Coastal Commission Executive Director Peter Douglas. "The Commission is moving forward with a new design, but it is important for California motorists to know that the program will continue in the meantime. People can still order Whale Tail license plates, and keep the ones they have. Their fees will continue to fund the Whale Tail Grant Program and other worthwhile environmental protection programs, and non-profits and public agencies can still apply for those funds."
Revenues from plate sales and renewals are divided every year by the Legislature between the Coastal Commission, the Coastal Conservancy and the Resources Agency. Douglas said that existing plates will not be recalled, and a new image can be substituted for Wyland’s whale tail without any disruption of the current program or DMV procedures.
Douglas says that Wyland gave the image to the state as "a gift" and that his agency has met all of Wyland's requirements, including that his name appear on each license plate.
"He has received tremendous publicity from the plate," Douglas said. "We advertised his brand in so many ways, it's been invaluable to him as he developed his business. I hope he changes his mind and agrees to let the state have it [the image] in perpetuity."
Wyland Foundation project director Steve Creech said, “To date, $40 million has been raised from the whale plate, and it’s reasonable that a portion should be directed to the Wyland Foundation."