Coastal Commission granted power to impose fines

June 23, 2014

coastal commisionWhen 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.

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So I read the linked article at the Sacramento Bee, but nowhere is there any mention of how the CC will be able to enforce their new ability to impose those fines; is there any ability of the CC to directly access an account of a person or entity that they are going to fine? Will they have to go to court to enforce their fine? Will they be able to attach a lien on the property taxes of that property? Without an enforcement mechanism, this new ability to fine will not really have much effect, IMO. This could get interesting; as mentioned before, will the CC be utilizing their new fines as a funding source for their own salaries or perks, or does the new law stipulate what those fines are to be used for?

The fines will probably be used just like the Air Quality Board; salaries and bonuses for the people who work there.

Slippery slope. Administrative deprivation of due process.