San Francisco, CA; June 13, 2024: The California Supreme Court will consider whether the California Coastal Commission (CCC) can unilaterally inject itself into the local land-use approval process and overrule a local government’s prior approvals of new housing permits.

After San Luis Obispo County approved Shear Development’s proposal to build four homes in Los Osos, the CCC appealed the approval to itself and vetoed the housing permits, even though the California Coastal Act delegates these decisions to the County.

“The CCC cannot run roughshod over local governments and property owners by ignoring the limitations state law places on its authority to inject itself in local land-use decision-making,” said Jeremy Talcott, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “California law gives local governments such as the County exclusive authority to make these decisions.”

“We’re thrilled the California Supreme Court has taken up this case to consider whether to rein in the CCC, whose longstanding abuse of its power by usurping local government’s authority across the state has been one of the prime causes of the statewide housing crisis we’re all experiencing.”

The County has adopted its Local Coastal Program (LCP), a County ordinance which creates a process by which property owners in the coastal zone can develop their land. Under the California Coastal Act, LCPs are developed with the CCC’s input and supervision. Once the CCC approved the County’s LCP, decisions about whether to approve developments in the coastal zone belong to the County, not the CCC.

In 2003, Shear began the process of building homes on its eight lots zoned by the County for residential development. In 2017, after Shear completed the first four homes, the County granted a Coastal Development Permit for the other four. But the CCC injected itself into the process, claiming the power to overrule all local permitting decisions.

Shear sued in state court. Pacific Legal Foundation, which represents Shear, is asking the California Supreme Court to reverse the CCC’s unlawful permit denial, confine the CCC to its proper role under the Coastal Act, and affirm that courts, not agencies, should resolve questions of statutory interpretation.

The case is Shear Development Co., LLC v. California Coastal Commission. A date for oral argument has not yet been set.


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