Bluff-Top Coastal Homeowners Petition California Supreme Court to Review Coastal Commission Restrictionson Seawall Permit

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Most homeowners in Malibu are well acquainted with the extensive permitting requirements for even the slightest addition or remodel, because much of our city is governed by the Coastal Act and the California Coastal Commission (CCC). Recently the California Courts have been asked to define the process for homeowners protesting conditions placed on permits issued by the CCC.

On September 9, 2014, one of the California Court of Appeals issued a decision in Lynch v. California Coastal Commission that drastically affects how Malibu homeowners must interact with the CCC to preserve their property rights.On October 20, 2014, home owners requested the California Supreme Court review this important issue.

In 2010, a violent storm severely damaged the seawall protecting several bluff-top coastal homes.To rebuild the seawall, the homeowners applied for a building permit with the CCC.The CCC issued the homeowners a permit, but the permit included conditions including (1) a restriction that homeowners could not rebuild a stairway to the beach that was damaged in the storm and (2) the permit would expire in 20 years, thereby granting the CCC the option to remove the seawall once the permit expired.The homeowners accepted these conditions “under protest” in hopes of being able to rebuild immediately and challenge the conditions later.

However, a California Court of Appeals held that the homeowners waived their right to challenge the permit conditions by writing the conditions into their deeds and starting to rebuild before completing their challenge to the conditions. This court refused to accept the homeowners’ argument that they only agreed to the permit conditions out of desperation to save and protect their homes and had made their objections known to the CCC.

The published Court of Appeals decision establishes case precedent that gives the CCC broad discretion to attach conditions to building permits.The decision also prevents homeowners governed by the CCC from building now and challenging permit conditions later.

Unless and until the California Supreme Court agrees to review the decision in Lynch v. California Coastal Commission, Malibu homeowners must resolve all their challenges of CCC permit conditions prior to beginning construction, even if the construction is absolutely necessary rather than simply cosmetic.Failure to wait may prove fatal to any later challenge brought by the homeowner.

Harrison Barnes, A Professional Law Corporation will continue monitoring the status of Lynch v. California Coastal Commission.Harrison Barnes, A Professional Law Corporation is a Malibu-based law firm focused on providing top quality representation to the Malibu community.For more details about the firm or a consultation, call (310) 598-1719 and check out Harrison Barnes, A Professional Law Corporation’s website at http://www.harisonbarnes.com

Bluff-Top Coastal Homeowners Petition California Supreme Court to Review Coastal Commission Restrictionson Seawall Permit by

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