Weekly litigation report — September 8, 2018

September 07, 2018 | By JAMES BURLING

 Agencies must explain their decisions

Thursday, we filed the latest brief in Mark and Bella Greene v. California Coastal Commission. The Greenes are a retired couple who wish to remodel their house in Playa Del Rey, Los Angeles. Even though the Greenes’ plans were consistent with local and state laws, the Commission told them that they had to scrap their plans and build a smaller house. The Greenes sued the Commission, arguing that all of the Commission’s stated reasons for imposing the smaller house requirement were unreasonable and not supported by evidence. Unfortunately, last month a Los Angeles Superior Court judge found that while some of the stated reasons could not support the Commission’s decisions, other stated reasons could support the decision. In the latest brief, we argue that this ambiguity requires the judge to send the case back to the Commission, so that it can decide whether it still wishes to impose the restrictions in light of the judge’s decision.

Victory in American Federation of Aviculture v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Thanks to a lawsuit filed by PLF, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service yesterday issued a proposed rule to remove outdated and counterproductive regulations that hurt golden parakeet conservation efforts.  According to experts, breeders are helping conservation efforts by depressing incentives for smugglers to take golden parakeets from the wild.  But current regulations make it difficult for breeders to trade captive golden parakeets, which in turn makes it difficult for them to maintain healthy flocks. Last year we sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of the Interior on behalf of the American Federation of Aviculture to push the government to follow the requirements of the Endangered Species Act and conduct a legally required review of the species We believed the review would result in a better outcome for the bird and for breeders. The federal government settled the lawsuit and agreed to complete the 12-month review by September of this year. Yesterday, the government delivered on its promise and proposed to recognize the golden parakeet’s improved status and to remove the counterproductive permit requirements. Read more on our blog.