Issues and Cases

Eroding the right to protect private property at the coast

Beach and Bluff Conservancy v. City of Solana Beach

Contact: Larry G. Salzman

Status: Hearing on Motion for Judgment on Petition for Writ of Mandate was held on November 18, 2016. In a mixed ruling, the court sided with the property owners on two claims and sided with the City on others. The property owners are presently considering an appeal of the adverse portions of the judgment.

Summary: PLF attorneys represent the Beach and Bluff Conservancy, a nonprofit organization of coastal property owners, in their suit against the City of Solana Beach over severe new restrictions on the use of Bluff Retention Devices (BRDs) — such as seawalls — to protect coastal property.


In March, 2012, the California Coastal Commission certified its own staff’s proposed Land Use Plan, which took Solana Beach’s already heavily modified plan and added 153 more changes — including serious limitations on the use of BRDs. The City adopted the Commission-modified plan in February, 2013.

The new policies are inconsistent with the Coastal Act, which mandates approval of BRDs “when required to serve coastal-dependent uses or to protect existing structures or public beaches in danger from erosion.” Moreover, the provision that property owners waive their right to construct BRDs in the future if they wish to remodel or add to existing structures is unconstitutional; it conflicts with Nollan v. California Coastal Commission’s prohibition on unrelated conditions on permits.

 

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