December 23, 2017

Cal. Coastal Commission ignoring the rule of law

By Larry G. Salzman Senior Attorney

Yesterday, the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal published an op-ed by me and my colleague Christina Martin taking the California Coastal Commission to task for violating the rule of law. The article reports on our representation of the non-profit Coastal Rights Coalition in a petition to California’s Office of Administrative law (OAL). The petition asks the OAL to review the Commission’s long-standing policy of forcing coastal property owners to waive their rights to seawalls or other shoreline protection as a condition of receiving a permit to build a new home. The problem with the policy is not merely that it takes away a right to such shoreline protection recognized by California’s constitution and Coastal Act, but that the policy was implemented totally illegally.

When regulators propose a policy like this, California law says they must give notice to the public, conduct hearings, and allow public comment. The Commission did none of this. It imposed its anti-seawall regulation by fiat. The Commission skirted the legal and procedural requirements that are designed to keep bureaucrats accountable to the Legislature and the public. The OAL has about sixty more days to respond to our petition, which we hope will result in the Commission being held accountable to the rule of law.

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Coastal Rights Coalition v. California Coastal Commission

When coastal property owners seek permits for new residential development, the California Coastal Commission requires them to agree never to build a seawall to protect the structure from storms and erosion. This policy was imposed by fiat, without public notice, hearings, and opportunity for public comment, as required by the California Administrative Procedure Act.

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