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Gualala Festivals Comm. v. California Coastal Comm'n

ELR Citation: 40 ELR 20095
Nos. No. A125614, (Cal. Ct. App., 03/25/2010)

A California appellate court affirmed a lower court decision that denied a writ of mandate seeking to set aside a cease-and-desist order entered by the California Coastal Commission (Commission) that prohibited a festival committee from discharging fireworks over the Gualala River estuary without first obtaining a coastal development permit under the California Coastal Act (Coastal Act). The committee argued that, contrary to the Commission’s determination, it did not need a permit because the fireworks display was not a “development” within the meaning of the Coastal Act. The court held that, although fireworks are not what are commonly regarded as a development of real property, the Coastal Act does not simply use the term “development.” Rather, the statute provides an expansive definition of the activities that constitute development for purposes of the act. Here, the fireworks display is a development within the plain language of the act because it would result in the discharge of solid and chemical waste within the coastal zone. The statute does not require that a minimum amount of waste be discharged to qualify.