Coastal Commission granted power to impose fines
June 23, 2014
When California Governor Jerry Brown signed the state budget into law Friday, he also granted a new power to the California Coastal Commission. [Sacramento Bee]
A provision included in the state budget allows the Coastal Commission to fine property owners who block public access to the beach. The commission previously did not have the power to impose any fines.
Last year, a bill progressed through the state Assembly that, too, would have granted the Coastal Commission the authority to fine property owners, but it fell a few votes short of passage. The proposal succeeded this time as part of a $108 billion budget that Brown signed.
Recently, environmentalists have battled in court to gain public access to a beach in San Mateo County. Environmentalists sued Silicon Valley billionaire Vinod Khosla for closing an access road to the beach after purchasing a secluded cove south of Half Moon Bay.
A judge is still deciding whether Khosla has the right to close the road, but the Coastal Commission can now weigh in by fining him if it deems appropriate.
The new regulation only applies, though, to cases of blocked beach access. The bill that failed in the legislature called for fining violators who destroy wetlands or build coastal homes without permits. The Coastal Commission must still go to court, which it rarely does, in order to address those types of violations.