June 24, 2010

Coastal Commission update

By Coastal Commission update

Author:  Damien M. Schiff

On Tuesday, I traveled up to Eureka for argument in PLF's lawsuit, Citizens for a Better Eureka v. California Coastal Commission, filed on behalf of concerned residents in Humboldt County, to tell the Commission to butt out of the cleanup of the blighted and polluted Balloon Track property in downtown Eureka.  Unfortunately, the judge assigned to the case was not available, so the hearing has been moved to next Wednesday.

One of the leading issues in the case is whether the Commission has the power to alter or condition a local government's nuisance abatement order.  The Coastal Act seems pretty clear on the point:  Section 30005(b) of the state's Public Resources Code states that the Commission may take no action that serves as a "limitation" on the power of a local government "to declare, prohibit, and abate public nuisances."  Here, the City of Eureka has declared the Balloon Track to be a nuisance and has ordered its immediate cleanup.

This issue is popping up elsewhere in the state.  For example, I reported a few weeks ago about the City of Dana Point's lawsuit against the Commission on the same grounds:  the Commission has no power to prevent the City from limiting late-night beach access, where that limitation is the result of a public nuisance abatement.

In a not-too-surprising example of litigation bite-back the Surfrider Foundation last week filed suit against the City of Dana Point, arguing that the City's enforcement of the beach access limitations without a coastal development permit violated the Coastal Act.

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