PLF to argue Coastal Commission appeal concerning property rights

July 09, 2014 | By PAUL BEARD

On Monday, July 14, at 9:00 a.m., I will be in the California Court of Appeal (San Diego) arguing an appeal brought by the California Coastal Commission in Lynch v. California Coastal Commission.  At stake is two Encinitas families’ right to repair a private beach staircase destroyed by storms, and to install (and keep) a state-of-the-art seawall to provide continuous and much-needed protection for their bluff-top homes.

The San Diego Superior Court concluded that the families do have that right.  The superior court stuck down the Commission’s denial of a permit to repair the staircase, along with the agency’s bizarre condition that their seawall permit expire after only 20 years.  After 19 years, the families would have to either tear down the wall and explore the alternative of re-locating their homes landward (onto the street?!), or prove to the Commission via permit re-application that they still need the seawall.  The Commission has appealed judgment in favor of the families.

When it took its decision on the families’ permit, the Commission made no secret of the real intent behind the expiration date for the seawall.  The Commission wants to preserve, what it calls, its “future shoreline planning options.”  Specifically, the agency hopes that, in 20 years’ time, “climate change and sea level rise,” along with “legislative change” and “judicial determinations,” will give it the expanded power to deny coastal landowners any and all protection for their homes.  Make no mistake.  This is the Commission’s goal:  Let Nature take its course and wipe out private property ownership along the coast through so-called “managed retreat,” without, of course, the payment of just compensation to affected coastal landowners.

Read more about the Lynch case here, and stay tuned for a decision from the Court of Appeal in the coming months.