Malibu should take heart in knowing that Judge Goodman’s decision last week regarding the Malibu Referendum is but a minor setback in our struggle against the Coastal Commission’s audacious attempt to replace our local government. An appeal of his decision and three other legal challenges to the agency’s efforts to colonize Malibu have yet to be heard. We are certain to prevail in one or more of these actions.
The first is the city’s lawsuit that the LCP is invalid because AB988 was unconstitutional. The silver lining in Judge Goodman’s decision that “”the Legislature unequivocally intended to make an exclusive delegation of authority with respect to the enactment of the LCP at issue” is that the door has been opened for a ruling in our favor on the AB988 challenge. In giving the Coastal Commission authority to write our LCP, AB988 violated our California constitution which forbids the Legislature from interfering with the right of cities to draft and adopt their own laws. The city also makes a valid claim that AB988 denied our citizens their rights to due process because the Legislature cannot single out Malibu for special legislation since 30 percent of the communities in the Coastal zone still do not have an LCP.
Two additional claims were made in the lawsuit filed by the Land Use Preservation Defense Fund. Our case argues the LCP was invalid because the Coastal Commission was unconstitutional at the time the agency wrote and adopted our LCP. Pending a final decision from the California Supreme Court that the Commission was unconstitutional under the Marine Forest case, courts will be compelled to invalidate the LCP.
Notwithstanding an eventual victory in court, we still are faced with the reality that the Coastal Commission continues to apply regulations that amount to ‘takings’ in the areas of ESHA, visual policies and by requiring owners to donate their land as a condition of obtaining a permit. The Commission has no statutory authority under the Coastal Act to apply these conditions and we have filed for a Writ of Mandate from the court to order the agency to cease their illegal designation of ESHA, visual and exaction policies.
The Land Use Preservation Defense Fund is encouraged that Judge Goodman has set a date to hear this landmark case in September. He recognizes that there is legal validity to our claim that the Coastal Commission has no statutory authority to designate vast inland areas of the coastal zone as off limits to human use, without compensation to the owners, and that forcing permit applicants to donate land has been ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.