Description: Challenge to conditions imposed by California Coastal Commission on the construction of a single-family residence on a bluff adjacent to the Pacific Ocean.
Martin v. California Coastal Commission
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 06/23/2021 Opinion Download Trial court reversed and California Coastal Commission special conditions upheld. California Appellate Court Said Substantial Evidence Supported Setback Requirement for Coastal Residence. The California Court of Appeal upheld conditions imposed by the California Coastal Commission on the construction of a single-family residence on a bluff adjacent to the Pacific Ocean in the City of Encinitas. The Commission required the home to be set back 79 feet from the bluff edge, required the elimination of a basement, and provided that the homeowners could not build any bluff or shoreline armoring device to protect the home. Regarding the setback, the Court of Appeal noted that the court had “explicitly resolved the same setback question” in an earlier case, Lindstrom v. California Coastal Commission, and the Court of Appeal was not persuaded by the homeowners’ arguments that it should revisit its determination in Lindstrom. The Court of Appeal further found that substantial evidence supported the imposition of the 79-foot setback requirement. The court said the Commission’s staff “used well-accepted scientific methodology” and that the Commission “provided ample explanation” for the conclusion that a higher projected level of sea-level rise was more appropriate than the level for which homeowners’ consultant advocated. The Court of Appeal noted that the Commission staff used more recent sea level rise data and recommendations, which the homeowners’ consultant acknowledged provided current sea level rise estimates. Regarding the basement, the Court of Appeal rejected the homeowners’ contention that the City’s requirement that new construction be designed and constructed for future removal applied only to construction within 40 feet of the bluff’s edge; the court further found that substantial evidence supported the finding that a basement could not be safely removed. Regarding the bar on any armoring device to protect the home, the Court of Appeal agreed with the Commission that the trial court’s invalidation of the condition should be reversed because the homeowners had abandoned their challenge to the condition on appeal.