On June 11, the California Coastal Commission issued a cease-and-desist order against the Gualala Festivals Committee (GFC), a small group of citizens who volunteer their time and money to organize fun events for the small coastal town of Gualala, California–including a fireworks show for the Fourth of July. The cease-and-desist prohibits the GFC from displaying fireworks unless it first asks permission of the Coastal Commission. The Coastal Commission's basis for jurisdiction? Obviously, an annual, 15-minute fireworks show is a "development" under the Coastal Act that requires a permit.
The GFC — and its lawyers, we at the Pacific Legal Foundation — beg to differ. If a fireworks show is "development," then any human activity within the coastal zone would be subject to the Coastal Commission's power. This is not what the people of this great State intended.
Last week, PLF asked the trial court temporarily to stay the cease-and-desist order, so that this year's show — which had been planned for months — could go on. The trial court refused. On Tuesday, the court of appeal denied PLF's emergency petition, requesting the same provisional relief. So this year's fireworks show in Gualala has been cancelled.
But the fight for liberty goes on. PLF will litigate the merits of the Coastal Commission's power grab in the trial court. Hopefully, a decision will issue sometime before next year's Independence Day show. Stay tuned.