Author: Paul Beard
Next Thursday, we'll be in the California Court of Appeal arguing on behalf of one couple's right to use and enjoy their private yard as they see fit, without undue interference from the heavy hand of government.
For decades, George and Sharlee McNamee of Corona del Mar have had benches, tables, a barbecue pit and various other amenities on their private beach-front yard. Their yard abuts a large strip of public beach, but none of the amenities affects that public-beach area. Nevertheless, several years ago, the California Coastal Commission characterized the amenities as "development" and demanded that the McNamees apply for a "coastal development permit" to keep them. When the McNamees reluctantly agreed to do so, the permit was denied. The reasons? Coastal Commissioners and their staff concluded the amenities were unsightly and created a psychological effect in the minds of the public that the public beach area is private. The Commission issued a cease-and-desist order—backed by heavy fines—demanding that the amenities be removed and the private yard restored to its original natural state.
After a loss in the trial court, PLF attorneys are representing the McNamees on appeal. We will ask the appeal court to set aside the Commission's cease-and-desist order, which lacks is wrong on the law and on the facts.