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Contact: Damien M. Schiff
Senior Attorney
Pacific Legal Foundation
(916) 419-7111
Larry G. Salzman
Senior Attorney
Pacific Legal Foundation
(714) 591-0490

PLF calls for rejection of AB 1129

Change attempts to codify Coastal Commission’s errant policy against shoreline protection

Sacramento, CA; April 18, 2017: In written testimony submitted to the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, attorneys for Pacific Legal Foundation’s Coastal Land Rights Project have strongly opposed Assembly Bill 1129, calling it a “radical change to the Coastal Act” that will inflict “great harm to private property owners along the coast.”

Damien M. Schiff
Senior Attorney

Larry Salzman
Senior Attorney

The proposed legislation, introduced by Assembly Member Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay), was heard yesterday by the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. It would modify the Coastal Act to deny proper owners of homes and other structures built after January 1, 1977, an entitlement to permits for the construction of shoreline protective devices, such as seawalls, necessary to defend their homes against storms, erosion, and other natural hazards.

“This is a radical change to the Coastal Act that unfairly burdens individual homeowners, will generate litigation, will subject the State and municipalities to liability when homes deprived of shoreline protection are destroyed, and offers no real benefit to the public in terms of coastal access or enjoyment,” PLF Senior Attorneys Damien Schiff and Larry Salzman stated in their comments. “Rather, the change attempts to codify an errant policy against shoreline protection that the Commission has pursued in recent years.”

PLF’s testimony maintains that the California Constitution and the California Coastal Act recognize an individual right to protect property, including from natural hazards, but that the California Coastal Commission has pursued an aggressive policy in recent years of “managed retreat” to require private property owners to helplessly abandon the coast and their homes to destruction in the face of natural hazards rather than take sensible actions to protect and preserve the safety and value of their property.

Contrary to claims that the proposed legislation will enhance coastal access, PLF stated that blocking homeowners from protecting their property will not improve California’s beaches.

“Storms, erosion, and other natural hazards will continue to occur. Those forces that destroy bluffs and deplete beaches of sand, not shoreline protection of private property, are the enemies of the public’s enjoyment of the coast.”

“In short, AB 1129 will result in great harm to private property owners along the coast, and will subject the State to liability, while ignoring the public benefits that arise from private action to preserve a stable shoreline in areas where natural forces threaten erosion and other damage. AB 1129 should be rejected.”

PLF’s formal written comments from Schiff and Salzman are available here, and video of Schiff’s testimony can be seen here.

About Pacific Legal Foundation and the Coastal Land Rights Project
Pacific Legal Foundation, America’s most powerful ally for justice, litigates in courts nationwide for limited government, property rights, individual liberty, and a balanced approach to environmental regulations. Attorneys in PLF’s Coastal Land Rights Project have litigated numerous cases against the Coastal Commission asserting the constitutional and statutory rights of individual homeowners threatened by unlawful actions of the Commission.