Author: Paul Beard
Yesterday, I had a hearing in the San Luis Obispo Superior Court in DeCicco v. California Coastal Commission. In August 2009, after the County of San Luis Obispo issued a permit to the DeCiccos to build 4 townhomes and a family-run motel, the Coastal Commission intervened. The Commission said it had jurisdiction over the project because, while the townhomes and motels are "principally permitted uses" for the property, the antecedent subdivision that simply rearranges 4 lots into 5 are not "principally permitted uses." A totally bogus excuse for the Coastal Commission to get involved and either set aside the locally approved permit, or impose prohibitively expensive conditions.
After declaring jurisdiction over the project, the Coastal Commission predictably accepted an appeal of the project by disgruntled neighbors, thereby putting a stop to the project until the Commission reviews it from scratch.
PLF immediately filed a lawsuit on behalf the DeCiccos, challenging the Commission's authority to intervene in the matter. The Commission responded with a request that the Court dismiss the case, because the DeCiccos hadn't run the long and costly administrative course through to a final decision on the merits of their project. In other words, the Commission demanded that it be allowed to examine the project and place conditions (or deny it)–even though it may not even have jurisdiction to begin with. A hearing on the Commission's request took place yesterday, and we are awaiting a decision from the Court.