What is public/private beach access?
Statutory Provisions for Public/Private Shoreline Access
Coastal Act. section 30210 states in relevant part:
“In carrying out the requirement of Section 4 of Article X of the California Constitution, maximum access... shall be provided for all the people consistent with public safety needs and the need to protect public rights, rights of private property owners, and natural resource areas from overuse.”
Section 30821 authorizes the Commission to impose administrative penalties on anyone “in violation of the public access provisions” of the Coastal Act. §30821(a). Section 30210 is a public access provision, and sets forth a public access policy which the Commission is obligated to implement. See §30214.
Public Access to Beach/Shoreline
A public access provision, Section 30211 states in relevant part that “[d]evelopment shall not interfere with the public’s right of access to the sea where acquired through use or legislative authorization.”
Section 30212 is a public access provision, and provides in relevant part that “[p]ublic access from the nearest public roadway to the shoreline and along the coast shall be provided in new development projects.”
Liability for Violation of Public Access Provisions
In 2014, the California Legislature enacted section 30821, enabling the Commission to impose an administrative civil penalty on “a person, including a landowner, who is in violation of the public access provisions” of the Coastal Act. §30821(a). The penalty may be assessed for each day that the violation persists, but for no more than five years. Id. The amount of the penalty per violation may not exceed 75 percent of $15,000 per day (i.e., $11,250 per day). Id.
In determining the amount of civil liability, the Commission must consider the following factors:
- the nature, circumstance, extent, and gravity of the violation;
- whether the violation is susceptible to restoration or other remedial measures;
- the sensitivity of the resource affected by the violation;
- the cost to the state of bringing the action; and
- with respect to the violator, any voluntary restoration or remedial measures undertaken, any prior history of violations, the degree of culpability, economic profits, if any, resulting from, or expected to result as a consequence of, the violation, and such other matters as justice may require.
(Sec. 30821(c), incorporating Sec. 30820(c).)
The Commission performs a quasi-judicial function when it issues a cease and desist order and an accompanying fine for unauthorized development. See Marine Forests Society v. California Coastal Commission, supra, 36 Cal.4th at 25-26. The limitations on the Commission’s power to issue a fine are that it must be authorized by legislation and must be “reasonably necessary to effectuate the administrative agency’s primary, legitimate regulatory purpose.” McHugh v. Santa Monica Rent Control Board, (1989) 49 Cal.3d 348, 374.
Violation of Permit Requirement and Inconsistency with CDP Conditions
Any person wishing to perform or undertake any development in the coastal zone shall obtain a CDP. §30600. A “development” means “...the placement or erection of any solid material or structure....” §30106. “If the commission, after public hearing, determines that any person or governmental agency has undertaken, or is threatening to undertake, any activity that:
- requires a permit from the commission without securing a permit or
- is inconsistent with any permit previously issued by the commission, the commission may issue an order directing that person or governmental agency to cease and desist.”
See Main Street Plaza v. Cartwright & Main, LLC, (2011) 194 Cal.App.4th 1044, 1054 [easement for particular purpose does not include any other uses by property owner].
Liability of Property Owners
In Leslie Salt Co. v. San Francisco Bay Conservation etc. Com. (1984) 153 Cal.App.3d 605, unpermitted land fill had been placed on marshy shoreline property between 1971 and 1976. (Id. at 609.) The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (the ‘BCDC’) discovered the landfill in 1979. (Id.) Appellant property owner was not involved in, and had no knowledge of, the fill. The court examined the McAteer-Petris Act, the purpose of which is to comprehensively regulate development of the San Francisco Bay and shoreline. (Id. at 616-17.) The McAteer-Petris Act provides that BCDC may issue an order requiring a person to cease and desist when the commission determines that the person has “undertaken, or is threatening to undertake, an activity that:
- requires a permit from the commission without securing a permit, or
- is inconsistent with a permit previously issued by the commission.”
(Govt. Code Sec. 66638.)
The commission so determined and ordered appellant to remove the fill. (Id. at 610.) On appeal, the appellant contended that Government Code section 66638 could not be applied to any person other than the one who actually placed the fill..., the one who “undertook” the landfill. (Leslie Salt, supra, 153 Cal.App.3d at 612.) The court disagreed. (Id. at 618.) In order to effectuate the important purpose of the McAteer-Petris Act, the court found it “necessary to construe section 66638 broadly so that one who ‘has undertaken, or is threatening to undertake’ the proscribed activities refers not simply to one responsible for the actual placement of unauthorized fill but also to one whose property is misused by others for the purpose and who even passively countenances the continued presence of such fill on his land.” (Id. at 616-18.)
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Nature of Proceedings: Case Management Conference; Motion Summary Judgment/Adjudication; Motion Summary Adjudication (2) Tom Pappas, etc., et al., v. State of California, et al., Case No. 1417388 (Judge Sterne) Hearing Date: August 1, 2015 Motions: (1) Motion of Defendants State Coastal Conservancy and California Coastal Commission for Summary Judgment or Alternatively for Summary Adjudica...
..k, LLP For Plaintiffs and Petitioners Tim Behunin, trustee of the Behunin Family Trust, and Patrick L. Connelly, individually and all others similarly situated: Marcus S. Bird, Hollister & Brace For Defendants and Respondents State of California, State Coastal Conservancy, and California Coastal Commission: Kamala D. Harris, Jamee Jordan Patterson, Office of the California Attorney General Ten...
Aug 01, 2016
- Judge Colleen Sterne
Santa Barbara County, CA
Warren M. Lent and Henny S. Lent v. California Coastal Commission, et al., BS 167531 Tentative decision on petition for writ of mandate: granted in part Petitioners Warren M. Lent (“Warren Lent”) and Henny S. Lent, individually and as trustees of the Lent Family Living Trust, seek a writ of mandate directing Respondent California Coastal Commission (“Commission”) to vacate a cease and desist ord...
..eding on February 6, 2017. The operative pleading is the First Amended Petitioner (“FAP”) filed on April 30, 2018. The FAP alleges in pertinent part as follows. The subject of this action is beachfront real property located at 20802 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265 (“Property”). In 1978, the original permit applicant, the Olympian Hotel Partnership submitted a Coastal Development Permit...
May 24, 2018
- Judge James C. Chalfant
Los Angeles County, CA
SCOTT JACOBS, Plaintiff(s), vs. STATE OF CALIFORNIA, ET AL., Defendant(s). CASE NO: BC612585 [TENTATIVE] ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT Undisputed Facts Plaintiff, Scott Jacobs filed this action against Defendant, State of California for damages arising out of a fall that occurred on the State’s property. The essential facts of the case are not disputed. Plaintiff was walking down...
... Gov Code §831.4 The State’s primary argument on summary judgment is that the case is barred by the immunity set forth in Gov Code §831.4, which provides, in pertinent part: A public entity, public employee, or a grantor of a public easement to a public entity for any of the following purposes, is not liable for an injury caused by a condition of: (a) Any unpaved road which provides access t...
Aug 02, 2017
- Judge Yolanda Orozco
Los Angeles County, CA
Background. This is a personal injury action. On July 7, 2017, Jana Vicars (“Plaintiff”) filed a lawsuit alleging one cause of action for premises liability - negligence against Martin Resorts, Inc. (“Defendant”). (Compl., passim.) Plaintiff’s complaint alleges that Defendant operates The Inn at the Cove in Pismo Beach (the “Property”). (Compl., ¶ 2.) Plaintiff further alleges that on July 24, 201...
..friends. (Def.’s Separate Statement of Undisputed Material Fact [“DUMF”] 3, 4, 7.) Plaintiff’s sole stated purpose to visit the beach was “to do some more relaxing” and enjoy the setting. (DUMF 9, 10.) On the date of the incident, Plaintiff parked at the hotel Property and walked down to Shelter Cove from the lot. (DUMF 5, 6.) While Plaintiff was using the walkway to access the beach, the “walkwa...
Aug 02, 2018
- Judge Barry LaBarbera
San Luis Obispo County, CA
Mark I. Greene and Bella Greene v. California Coastal Commission, BS 165764 Tentative decision on (1) motion to augment: denied; and (2) petition for writ of mandate: denied Petitioners Mark I. Greene and Bella Greene (the “Greenes”) seek a writ of mandate directing Respondent California Coastal Commission (“Commission”) to set aside its decision on the Coastal Development Permit (“CDP”) issued...
..lleges in pertinent part as follows. Petitioners are joint owners of property located at 6517 Ocean Front Walk, Playa Del Rey, California 90293 (“Property”). The Property is a 2,410 square-foot residential duplex adjacent to the beach, over 500 feet from the mean high tide line of the Pacific Ocean. Petitioners bought the Property in 2006 as a future retirement home and have rented the Property...
Jul 26, 2018
- Judge James C. Chalfant
Los Angeles County, CA
Nature of Proceedings: Motion Leave to File First Amended Complaint Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint Ruling The court grants plaintiff John J. Longo’s motion for leave to file a first amended complaint. Plaintiff must file an original first amended complaint on or before January 24, 2014. The first amended complaint will be deemed served as of January 21, 2014. Backgro...
... Defendant Lee Carr owns improved real property located at 2375 E. Finney Street. The County of Santa Barbara has an interest in undeveloped property commonly known as Cary Place that lies east of the Longo property and west and northwest of the Carr property by reason of an 1890 dedication by the then-owner of all of Summerland. Cary Place has historically been controlled by the County and open...
Jan 21, 2014
- Judge Thomas Anderle
Santa Barbara County, CA