Mt. Holyoke Homes v. CCC: Why It Makes No Sense to Work with the Commission
Today, the California Court of Appeal issued a terrible published decision that is sure to have a negative impact on the willingness of coastal landowners to work with the Coastal Commission on their permits.
Mt. Holyoke was a Coastal Commission case concerning the 49-day substantial issue finding requirement. The Court of Appeal had ruled previously that, if the Commission doesn't make a finding, within 49 days of an appeal's filing, that the appeal presents a substantial issue of whether the Coastal Act has been complied with, then the decision at the local level stands. Here, the developer had a good argument that the 49-day period ran before the Commission made the appropriate finding. But, the developer continued to cooperate with the Commission post-49-day period (after a disgruntled neighbor appealed the permit). When the Commission ultimately overturned the permit, the developer sued and advanced the 49-day defense. The Court of Appeal today ruled that, whether or not the developer had a good 49-day defense initially, he is estopped from asserting it now because he cooperated with the Commission for two and a half years after the 49-day period expired. PLF filed an AC brief in support of the developer, arguing that (1) the developer had a good 49-day defense, and (2) the developer could raise it, because he had not knowingly relinquished it.
What to read next
PLF asks the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that there is no “legislative exception” to the unconstitutional conditions doctrine
It seems that some governments and courts prefer to treat Supreme Court precedent as an option, rather than a requirement. The Supreme Court has ruled—twice—that it’s unconstitutional for government to … ›