8 months ago

Property rights ruling secures family's coastal mobilehome

By Larry G. Salzman Senior Attorney

Last year PLF took on a case against the California Coastal Commission, representing the Wills family. When the Wills sought a permit to replace the aging mobilehome on their beachfront property with a substantially similar new one, the Commission demanded that they forever waive their rights to repair or alter the seawall that protected the property against natural hazards as a condition of the permit. The condition was part of an ongoing Commission policy to discourage and eliminate development of private property along the beach in California. PLF sued because this unfair demand also violated both the Coastal Act and the California and U.S. Constitutions.

Today, the Commission approved the Wills’ permit without the seawall waiver condition, prodded by a courtroom victory by PLF and the Wills last year that found the Commission’s demand illegal.The court held that “it appears to be overreaching to have the [property owner] give up any rights to possible repair or maintenance of” the seawall that protects their home. And that the Commission’s “waiver seems unreasonably broad and contrary to” U.S. Supreme Court precedent. In striking down the Commission’s permit decision, the court remanded the case to the Commission to reconsider the permit in light of court’s ruling.

The matter concluded today with the Commission approving the new permit without requiring any waiver of the Wills’ rights to future shoreline protection of their property. They are now free to enjoy their modest beachfront home, secure in their property right to protect it against storms and erosion long in to the future.

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