President's weekly report — April 18, 2014

April 18, 2014 | By ROB RIVETT

Property Rights — California Coastal Commission

We filed our brief in Lynch v. California Coastal Commission.  Here, the Commission is 1) refusing to allow a pair of homeowners to repair some storm-damaged beach stairs unless the stairs are dedicated for public use and, 2) refusing to allow for the construction of a new seawall (to replace one that was destroyed in a storm) unless the homeowners agree that the seawall will have only a 20-year term, after which it must go through a new permitting process (with, no doubt, the attendant mitigation measures.)  The trial court tossed out these conditions and the Commission has appealed.  For more, see our blog here.

The Court of Appeal granted our motion for a rehearing in SDS Family Trust v. California Commission. That’s the case where the Coastal Commission is demanding a public trail easement in exchange for a permit to repair a home and rebuild a barn that had fallen down.

Property Rights — Spot Zoning

We filed this amicus brief in Griepenburg v. Township of Ocean before the New Jersey Supreme Court.  Here Ocean Township decided to downzone the Griepenburg’s 29 acres to one home per 20 acres.  The property is bounded by the New Jersey Parkway on one side and by developed subdivisions on the remaining sides. The appellate court found that there was no good reason for the downzoning and tossed it out.  The case is now on appeal.

Environment — Delta Smelt and Water Rights

The Ninth Circuit ruled in Natural Resources Defense Council v. Jewell that the Bureau of Reclamation must consider the impact on the Delta Smelt when it renews water contracts for central valley water users.  As our blog explains, the decision will spread the pain of Delta smelt mitigation to more farmers and others dependent on Central Valley Project water.

Environment — States and Clean Air Regulations

We filed this amicus brief in Rocky Mountain Farmers Union v. Corey.  We are asking the United States Supreme Court to grant review in a challenge to California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard because those standards are, in effect, regulating activity occurring in other states.  This brief is being filed on behalf of ourselves as well as  Cato Institute, National Federation of Independent Business Legal Center, Reason Foundation, the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, and the Energy and Environment Legal Institute.  For more information, see our blog post.

Free Speech — Commercial Speech

We filed this amicus brief in Minority Television Project v. Federal Communications Commission.  Here a public television station wanted to run some messages from its sponsors (i.e. advertisements).  But the FCC said no; although the law is clear that the FCC cannot restrict opinion speech by broadcasters, it still claims the right to proscribe commercial speech. As our blog explains, because the First Amendment doesn’t single commercial speech out for poor treatment, neither should the FCC.