July 23, 2008

Holding the Coastal Commission's Feet to the Fire

By Holding the Coastal Commission's Feet to the Fire

PLF's Coastal Land Rights Project is busy at work fighting against the California Coastal Commission's abuses.  Here are a couple of cases we are currently involved in:

Charles A. Pratt Construction Co., Inc. v. California Coastal Commission

On Friday, PLF attorneys and the Homebuilders Association of Northern California filed a letter brief in support of a petition for review in this case, currently pending before the California Supreme Court.

The petition asks the Court to review a published appellate decision (162 Cal. App. 4th 1068 (2008)) that raises important and unsettled questions of law concerning: (1) the authority of the California Coastal Commission to skirt the protections provided to property owners under the Vesting Tentative Map Act, (2) the Commission’s authority unilaterally to rewrite Local Coastal Programs that it long ago certified, and (3) the power of courts to slam the door on colorable regulatory takings claims. 

You can download PLF's letter brief here:  Download plf_brief_pratt.pdf.

Mt. Holyoke Homes, LP v. California Coastal Commission

In June, PLF attorneys filed an amicus brief in support of Mt. Holyoke Homes, and against the California Coastal Commission, in the Second District Court of Appeal of California. 

Once a local government issues a coastal development permit, the permit often is appealed either by an unhappy neighbor, an environmentalist, or two Commissioners.  Once an appeal is initiated, the Commission has 49 days to determine whether the appeal raises a "substantial issue"–i.e., whether the permit conflicts with the local government's Local Coastal Program (as certified by the Commission).  If there's a substantial issue, the permit goes to a full-blown hearing before the Commission. 

Obviously, the 49-day rule provides property owners with significant protections against long, drawn-out appeals by the Commission.  The appeal in this case will test the scope of the 49-day rule, and will consider whether property owners can actually waive the protection of that rule by cooperating with Commission staff in providing information and documents.  For more details, read PLF's brief here: Download plf_brief_mt_holyoke.pdf.

What to read next