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California Supreme Court Grants California Coastal Commission Jurisdiction Over Subdivisions

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Palisades Bowl Mobile Estates

Last week the California Supreme Court in Palisades Bowl v. City of Los Angeles granted the Coastal Commission broad jurisdiction over paper subdivisions, even though the subdivision of property does not change the intensity or density of use, and does not meet the classic definition of “development” in the Coastal Act.

The case originated when the City of Los Angeles refused to accept an application for the conversion of a 170-unit mobile home park from tenant occupancy to resident ownership.  The application was not accepted because the owner failed to include an application for a coastal development permit from the Coastal Commission. The owner contended that a Government Code section set forth all of the state requirements for conversion of mobile homes, which effectively preempted the Coastal Commission from asserting its own independent jurisdiction. The owner also emphasized the important public policies, set forth in the Government Code, in favor of affordable housing and to protect owners from economic displacement.

The Supreme Court disagreed, concluding that the Coastal Act’s public policies are not to be given less weight than the Government Code’s public policies.  It remains to be determined how these competing policies will play out if and when the mobile park owner’s application is reviewed by both the City of Los Angeles and the Coastal Commission.

Justice Kennard, in a strongly worded dissent, concluded that subdividing a mobilehome park to convert it to resident ownership does not involve a change in the density or intensity of the property’s use, is not a “development” within the meaning of the Coastal Zone Act, and therefore it is not subject to regulation under the Coastal Act. Only the form of ownership is changed.

It appears that the California Supreme Court has stretched the plain meaning of the definition of development in the Coastal Act beyond the intent of the drafters in order to grant the Coastal Commission even broader regulatory jurisdiction.  This will only further impede low income housing for residents along the California coast.

Property Rights Lawyers with experience defending land owners against the California Coastal Commission:

The property rights and  land use lawyers at Kassouni Law share over 30 years experience defending clients against California Coastal Commission violations and other California Coastal Commission issues involving Constitutional property rights and the right to develop land.  If you intend to develop land along the California Coast, or if you are experiencing an infringement of your Constitutional property rights, call Kassouni Law for an honest assessment of your legal matter (877) 770-7379.

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