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California Coastal Commission - Why Funding Swap Makes Sense

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

The California Department of Justice (DOJ) wants to be compensated by California’s state agencies for legal services. It is a reasonable request - considering that last year, the DOJ lost $30 million of its budget and had to cut 130 attorneys from its staff.

As a way to manage their caseload and still provide legal services for state agencies, the DOJ is proposing to have the state re-allocate funds usually provided to the DOJ, to the general fund agencies, and in turn, have the agencies pay the DOJ for legal services provided.

The DOJ annual General Fund has sometimes not been sufficient to accommodate all of the legal services requested by the various agencies, which then outsource private counsel at up to double the cost than if they had been represented by DOJ.

The Governor’s budget overview projected a shortfall for the 2010-11 fiscal year of $6.9 billion, this deficit has grown by $13 billion in the budget, with the largest chunk - $4.9 billion - the result of Federal and State Court Litigation!

Opponents of the funding swap, including Peter Douglas, executive director of the California Coastal Commission, have complained that it would be “the greatest threat to the integrity of the Coastal Act since it was passed.”

This is simply untrue.

SINS OF COMMISSION documents the California Coastal Commission’s long history of overstepping the authority provided it under the California Coastal Act. Stopping the commission’s free ride on legal expenses would required it to prioritize its focus and keep it from capricious costly litigation.

The funding swap may reduce the Commission’s dictatorial pattern of obstructionist rulings, which are in clear violation of the Coastal Act and the Constitution, as when it picks unnecessary fights with families, farmers and ranchers at the expense of broader planning.

This important tax-saving, fair-minded proposal is long overdue.

If you would like to express your support for the legal funding swap please contact:

http://www.assembly.ca.gov/acs/subcommitteeframe.asp?subcommittee=125

http://www.assembly.ca.gov/acs/newcomframeset.asp?committee=18

http://www.sen.ca.gov/ftp/sen/committee/sub/BFR_4_AGENCIES/_home1/PROFILE.HTM

http://www.sen.ca.gov/ftp/sen/committee/sub/BFR_2_JUSTICE/_home1/PROFILE.HTM

Speaking of funding…

SINS OF COMMISSION is a fiscally sponsored film through the International Documentary Association, a 501 c3 non profit organization. This means you can support SINS OF COMMISSION the movie,  freedom of speech, documentary film making, the International Documentary Association, and receive a tax deduction at the same time.

California Coastal Commission - Why It Is Time For A Change

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

The Sterling Family

The Sterling Family

Dan Sterling has been locked in a decade-long battle to get a permit to build a home on land he purchased in 1997.

No one should ever have to do that.

This is not environmental protection, this is not politics  - this is EXTORTION, state run, government sanctioned - and its time for it to stop in California.

Mr. Sterling went on to say,” it took seven years to get a county permit to construct a 6,456-square-foot home on the land.”

Then the Coastal Commission took his plan under review and ultimately required he agree to turn over all but 10,000 square feet of the property for an agricultural easement, meaning use of the property surrounding his new home would be limited.

Last Friday, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge George Miram ruled the Coastal Commission acted inappropriately. (HMBReview.com)

“While the (Coastal) Commission may have jurisdiction to impose an affirmative agricultural easement under the Local Coastal Plan, the imposition of the easement here constitutes an unconstitutional taking…

San Mateo County Superior Court Judge George Miram

It was clear that the Coastal Commission was violating the Constitution. The Fifth Amendment prohibition on ‘takings’ forbids government from using the building permit process to extort property from the permit applicant. That’s exactly what the commission was trying to do. “It was exploiting the permit process as a chance to try to confiscate property from the Sterlings,”

J. David Breemer, Pacific Legal Foundation

The Sterling Family Children

There will no doubt be an unnecessary, lengthy. time consuming, and costly appeal processes as there was with another famous case Marine Forest Society.

In the spring of 2001, a superior court judge found the Coastal Commission to be unconstitutional under California’s separation-of-powers doctrine.

The judgment was then affirmed unanimously on appeal, with the appellate court finding a separation of powers violation. NEW YORK UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW [Vol. 79:281]

The problem with the California Coastal Commission is that the issue of the separation of powers still exists, the problem of no term limits still exists, and the appointment process still exists.

Even though the California Coastal Commission was Jerry-rigged at the last minute to pass muster by the state Supreme Court, until such time as the legislature changes what the California Coastal Commission does and how it does it - the California Coastal Commission will continue its end-run policy around constitutional law.

Quasi-judicial organizations like the California Coastal Commission create serious separation-of-powers concerns, and that those concerns are heightened by the scope of the Coastal Commission’s authority and jurisdiction,along with the powerful interests it regulates and has been demonstrated to promote cronyism and out right extortion.

It is not clear, however, that the appointment structure has actually insulated commissioners from political influence, and in fact, the appointment process has been called the Commission’s greatest flaw. It is precisely in a situation like this that courts should be wary of political self-interest leading legislators to diverge from the procedures that promote good law and help protect individuals from arbitrary policy-making.

NEW YORK UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW [Vol. 79:281]

Dan Sterling's children wait

The Sterling Family wait their fate

Until the structural mechanics of the California Coastal Commission is brought under reform, the commission will continue to abuse its power.

It is unfortunate for all the people of California that the California Coastal Commission does not care about the pain it inflicts on California coastal families.

Perhaps this is the best example of why it it important the  California Coastal Commission foots its own legal bills as proposed by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Maybe then, and only then, we will see the end to the California Coastal Commission’s abuse of their authority, stop their over reach of jurisdiction, and end years of ruining people’s lives…for what? A “dedication” of property.

 

Still got a few - and I mean a few - of these stylin’ SINS OF COMMISSION hats, and I will send you one FREE as a personal thank-you gift with any donation over $110.00.  ($10 is Shipping + Handling). You receive both a tax deduction and a hat when you click the donate now button on the upper right.



 
 
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