This is a long one from the California Court of Appeal, Fourth District (58 pages, with an 11-page dissent), so we're not going to go into detail. But if a local government's conflict with an all-powerful state agency, shoreline and coastal law, or how the concept of governmental "pretext" is treated in areas outside of eminent domain law is your cup of tea, then be sure to check out City of Dana Point v. California Coastal Comm'n, No. D060260 (June 17, 2013).
Property owner created 125 lots on an oceanfront slope. On the inland side of the development is a public park built by the developer, and a public beach is on the seaside, donated by the developer. (That's "mauka" and "makai" respectively for you Hawaii people.) Public access trails run through the development, linking the park and the beach. The city adopted an ordinance requiring the installation of gates and limited hours for the trails, on the grounds that open trails are a nuisance. Third parties objected and filed appeals with the Coastal Commission, which ruled that the gates and limited hours require a coastal development permit. Administrative fun ensued:
The dispute in this case centers around whether the installation of the gates and the limited hours of operation for the trails fall within the City's nuisance abatement powers under the Coastal Act and therefore does not require a coastal development permit, or instead, exceeds those powers and thus requires that the City seek a coastal development permit in order to undertake such development.The City filed an action (City's Case) seeking to set aside the Commission's decision and restrain any future attempt on the part of the Commission to exercise jurisdiction over the development mandated by the ordinance. The City contended that the Commission lacked jurisdiction over its actions because the limited hours of operation and installation of the gates were required to abate nuisance conditions at the site, and the Coastal Act provides that no provision of the Act is a limitation on "the power of any city or county or city and county to declare, prohibit, and abate nuisances."...Surfrider Foundation (Surfrider), a nonprofit environmental organization, filed a separate action (Surfrider Case) against the City in which Surfrider claimed that the Commission had jurisdiction over the development mandated by the ordinance, and that the development violated the Coastal Act and various land use regulations governing the Project, including the City's local coastal program (see § 30500).5 Surfrider also claimed that the City lacked a rational basis for adopting the ordinance and that the ordinance impinged on various state and federal constitutional rights of the public.
Slip op. at 3-5 (footnote omitted). The trial court invalidated the Commission's determination that the gates and limited hours required a coastal development permit. It also concluded that the city had acted arbitrarily and capriciously "in the manner by which it declared a nuisance on the Project," and invalidated the ordinance. Needless to say, pretty much everyone appealed.
The Court of Appeal upheld the invalidation of the Commission's coastal development permit requirement because the Commission does not have administrative appellate jurisdiction to review a municipal ordinance. The court also held that the Commission might be able to exercise jurisdiction if the city was not acting within the scope of its nuisance abatement powers. It remanded the case for a determination by the trial court of whether the ordinance was "pretextual."