PLF helps beat a brazen abridgement of rights by Cal. Coastal Commission
Newport Beach, California; June 15, 2012: This week, the California Fourth District Court of Appeal resoundingly rejected the California Coastal Commission’s attempt to expropriate a private bridge in Newport Beach.
The ruling in Bay Island Club v. California Coastal Commission was consistent with a friend-of- the-court brief that Pacific Legal Foundation filed in opposition to the commission’s infringement of property rights.
Donor-supported PLF is a leading legal watchdog for property rights in courts nationwide, and PLF has been the most consistent opponent of overreaching regulations by the California Coastal Commission, for four decades.
“In this ruling, the court of appeal has wisely rejected the California Coastal Commission’s attempt to transform people’s private property into public property,” said PLF Principal Attorney Paul J. Beard II, who authored PLF’s amicus brief. “The court’s decision leaves the club free to pursue its carefully developed plan for rebuilding efforts without having to satisfy extortionate demands by bureaucrats at the Coastal Commission.
“This ruling is a great victory for everybody’s property rights, no matter where you live — close to the water or far inland,” Beard continued. “It is a setback for bureaucratic attempts to undermine property rights by eroding people’s control over their own private property.”
Coastal Commission tried to pervert the permitting process
The club is a cooperative of residents who live on Bay Island, off the coast of Newport Beach. A channel, whose waters the city owns, separates the island from the mainland. A 1927 deed and a 1928 court judgment recognize the club’s exclusive right to build, maintain, and use a “private” bridge for residents’ access.
In 2006, the club applied to the commission for a permit to rebuild the bridge. The new bridge will be safer and relocated so that the public has more shoreline access for recreation along the waters. The commission approved the permit, but only on the condition that the club make its private bridge public — for 24-hour access for anyone who wants to use it.
Not only did the club reject the condition, the city also opposed it — because of the risk of injury to the public from recreational use of the bridge.
The club sued the commission, arguing that the commission’s demand was extortionate and unlawful. After losing in the trial court, the club appealed, with amicus support from PLF.
In the unanimous decision announced this week, the court of appeal held that the bridge is indeed private, and that no amount of past trespassing could make it public.
About Pacific Legal Foundation
Donor-supported Pacific Legal Foundation (www.pacificlegal.org) is the leading legal watchdog that litigates for limited government and property rights, in courts nationwide. PLF has been the most consistent legal defender of property rights against bureaucratic overreach by the California Coastal Commission, for four decades, including in PLF’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court victory in Nollan v. California Coastal Commission (1987).