The California Legislature is considering bills that would expand the California Coastal Commission's powers and have serious impacts on coastal property owners:
AB 226: This bill authorizes the Commission itself (not just the courts) to impose monetary penalties on property owners who allegedly violate the Coastal Act. Moreover, the bill allows the Commission to keep all penalities paid to augment its budget.
AB 291: The bill would prohibit any property owner with unresolved problems with the Coastal Commission from applying for any permit — regardless of the merits of the Commission's alleged problems with that property owner. The language of the bill reads: "A person who has been issued a notice of intent, cease and desist order, restoration order, or a notice of violation . . . . shall be ineligible to submit an application for a coastal development permit until the violation has been resolved." So, even if the property owner turns out to be right that no violation has occurred, in the interim, the Commission gets the benefit of the doubt and can ban him/her from filing permit applications.
Stay tuned for more on these bills, as they make their way through the Legislature.