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San Diego Coast Regional Comm'n v. See the Sea, Ltd.

Citation: 3 ELR 20760
No. No. L.A. 30142, 109 Cal. Rptr. 377/5 ERC 1761/9 Cal. 3d 888, (Cal., 08/22/1973)

The California Coastal Zone Conservation Act of 1972 applies to coastal projects commenced after February 1, 1973, but does not require builders who performed substantial construction prior to that date to apply for permits from the regional coastal commission. To hold otherwise would in effect impose a moratorium on coastal construction, a result which the court believes to be unwarranted in the absence of specific language to that effect in the Act. The court also refuses to derive such a holding by negative implication from the Act's provisions for permit exemptions. Noting the drawn-out nature of construction project planning, the court finds no evidence of bad faith attempts to evade the February 1 deadline and upholds the trial court's denial of a preliminary injunction.

A vigorous dissent argues that the court has misread the Act, ignored precedent, and rewarded builders who conducted bad faith attempts to beat the deadline. Accordingly, the dissent suggests that the preliminary injunction should be granted and the builders who commenced construction prior to February 1 should be required to apply for coastal permits, with the provision that the permits must be issued but that the projects in question may be modified in accordance with the purposes of the Act.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Dennis A. Antenare
Office of the Attorney General
6000 State Building
San Francisco, California 94102

Counsel for Defendants
Brown V. Smith
Hillyer & Irwin
Suite 1400 First National Bank Building
530 "B" Street
San Diego, California 92101