February 18, 2011

The Coastal Commission gives "The Edge" vertigo

By The Coastal Commission gives "The Edge" vertigo

Author: Luke A. Wake

Last week I attended the California Coastal Commission's meeting in Chula Vista, where an unofficial topic of controversy centered upon U2 rockstar "The Edge." He and several of his acquaintances have submitted a series of applications to build separate houses on separate properties in Malibu. The Commission staff has recommended rejection of these permit applications. But, the Commission abruptly removed the applications from its February agenda one day before the Commissioners were to hold a hearing on whether to approve or reject them.  To quote U2, "…the Battle's Just begun…"

Indeed this may be shaping up for a fight in the courts, which may have an impact on other landowners. The legal controversy is whether the Coastal Commission may treat multiple permit applications as a single application. If the Commission can get away with this, it can more easily restrict the use of seperate adjoining parcels of land.

Even after the Commission pulled the applications from its agenda, the Commissioners talked extensively about the project during public comment on Wednesday February 9th. After a warning from the Commission's legal counsel that the Commissioners could not discuss a non-agendized matter, the Commissioners sought to coach their conversation in more general terms. But, it was clear they were talking about "The Edge Project." 

The Commission says that The Edge Project will be reviewed in April; however, the Commissioners expressed interest in discussing the legal question of whether they may treat separate applications as one during its upcoming March meeting. At least one of the Commissioners has suggested further delaying formal review of the applications until May or early summer so as to give the Commission more time to consider that issue; however, the Commission's legal counsel has warned that The Edge's permit applications may already be deemed approved by that time pursuant to the Permit Streamlining Act (PSA).

Under the PSA, permits are deemd approved after a specified number of days once a permit application is deemed complete. The applicants in this case contend that, if the Commission fails to take an action on their permit applications during its April meeting, those applications will be deemed complete. But, Commission staff contends that the Commissioners have more time.

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