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California Coastal Act

Development projects within California’s coastal zone require compliance with the California Coastal Act of 1976. Administered by the California Coastal Commission, the Act creates regulations for a myriad of land and coastal uses and access activities.

Best Best & Krieger LLP’s (BBK) attorneys have been involved with the Commission since its formative years, representing the Commission in regular meetings and overseeing much of its litigation in the trial and appellate courts. That is why clients continue to rely on BBK’s Municipal Law attorneys.

Our attorneys have handled numerous public and private projects before the Commission, and are adept at working cohesively with Commission staff, appearing before the Commission and, when necessary, challenging Commission decisions in court. We serve as city attorney or special counsel to more than 35 cities and dozens of special districts located within the coastal zone that require Coastal Act experience.

Some notable examples of BBK’s Coastal Act experience include:

  • As city attorney for a Southern California coastal city, BBK is assisting with the preparation and processing of an update to the city’s Coastal Land Use Plan. The update will be used to gain Coastal Commission certification of a Local Coastal Program for the city. The city has submitted its updated Land Use Plan to the Commission for review and is awaiting the Commission’s response.
  • BBK attorneys are defending a coastal city in a lawsuit that, in part, challenges the city’s adoption of three ordinances establishing limits on short-term rentals and other types of short-term uses within the city, including within the coastal zone.
  • BBK attorneys assisted a city with processing a conditional use permit application for a dog park within a portion of the coastal zone that falls within a coastal city’s corporate boundaries. After approving a mitigated negative declaration and conditional use permit for the dog park, the applicant applied to the Commission for a coastal development permit.
  • BBK attorneys assisted a port district challenging the Commission’s imposition of a condition of low-cost hotel rooms on the port’s application to amend its master plan. The trial court agreed with the port district’s position that the Coastal Act prohibits the Commission from imposing such a condition.
  • The City of Avalon on Catalina Island sits entirely within a coastal zone. As city attorney, BBK provides ongoing legal advice and support to the City, including the coordination, preparation, and submission of Coastal Development Permits and Emergency Permits with the Commission for public works projects, emergency projects necessitated by sudden storm events, and special event permits for large-scale and multi-day athletic events. BBK also provides ongoing support to the City for work on its Local Coastal Program/General Plan Update, which is currently in progress.
  • BBK appeared before the Commission on behalf of a Southern California transit district to object to Commission staff’s recommendation to deny a proposed Local Coastal Plan amendment. The amendment was to allow permitted and accessory uses within the transportation corridor consistent with adjacent land use districts. The dispute involved jurisdictional issues related to the applicability of the Coastal Act to the transit district’s public transit system within its area of jurisdiction, the ability of the transit district to develop its surplus land with residential, commercial or mixed uses, and the proposed development’s consistency with Coastal Act policies. In response to our client’s objection, the Commission agreed to amended language in the LCP allowing non-transit related uses in the corridor.
  • BBK represented a public university in negotiating an agreement with private property owners to mitigate the environmental and land use impacts that a proposed residential project would have on a neighboring property. The neighboring property was deeded for the benefit of the university’s Health Services Department in exchange for a charitable gift annuity in which the donor received the right to occupy the property for the remainder of her life. The private property owners had submitted an application to the city for the project. The university sought to ensure the project would not negatively impact the donor or her property. BBK provided advice on the project’s compliance with CEQA and the city’s Local Coastal Program and participated in the administrative process and a settlement negotiation. The negotiated settlement agreement imposes numerous construction and operational mitigation measures on the project related to geotechnical, noise, air quality, lighting, and access impacts.
  • BBK attorneys assisted a port district with Coastal Act and CEQA compliance related to the adoption of a building wrap ordinance applicable to the commercial district within the city’s jurisdiction, including compliance with the district’s Coastal Development Permit regulations.
  • As general counsel to a wastewater joint powers agency, BBK recently assisted the JPA in a Coastal Commission certification hearing regarding the permitting of a $400 million wastewater treatment facility.

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