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California Coastal Commission Sues Over a Backyard Picnic Table

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

George and Sharlee McNamee have a beautiful home and a bounty of children and grandchildren who visit them in their Corona Del Mar, California.

Life should be good. It’s not. The reason: For the last decade, the McNamees’ backyard has been a battlefield. The retired couple has spent $250,000 in legal fees fighting for the freedom to use a picnic table, a built-in barbecue pit and other amenities in their own backyard.

The Coastal Commission issued a cease-and-desist order against the McNamees in May, 2004

We fight for two reasons, property rights and freedom,” says George McNamee, a silver-haired former insurance salesman. “My wife and I decided a long time ago, those two things matter. Without that, there isn’t much left.”

The commission wants the McNamees to convert their private backyard into a public nature reserve for the pleasure of the viewing public,” said the couple’s attorney, Paul Beard, of the Pacific Legal Foundation. “It is important we are able to restrain these kind of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats in order to set an example to other agencies around the country that people have property rights that need to be respected.”

(FoxNews.com)

Although it is not, strictly speaking an eminent domain case, the case raises fundamental issues of property rights: Although the Coastal Commission hasn’t formally confiscated the McNamees’ beach property, the Commission is trying, effectively, to take control of their land. (PLF)

The case also illustrates the arrogance of the California Coastal Commission, a un-elected rogue agency long notorious for abusing property rights and property owners.(PLF)

The McNamees offered a compromise — they would get rid of the flower garden, palapa and shed if they were allowed to keep the picnic table, shower and barbecue.

The commission said no.

(FoxNews.com)

Is frivolous, capricious, and costly litigation over beach furniture the best use of the State of California’s scant fiscal resources, the office of the state Attorney General, The California Coastal Commission and the judiciary?

I think not.

SINS OF COMMISSION - KSCO AM 1080 - Adds Distinguished Guests

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

When SINS OF COMMISSION filmmaker Richard Oshen takes to the airwaves on Michael Zwerling’s SATURDAY SPECIAL, August 8 on KSCO AM 1080, he will be joined by two prominent guests in the struggle for human rights in California.

Terry Gossett is President, and a founding director of Californians for Property Rights, an educational public benefit corporation. Terry has been a director of a number of technical, financial and community organizations. He currently consults for the aerospace industry in program management and simulation of manned and unmanned aircraft systems.Terry and his wife, Bee, have lived in Moss Beach since 1998.

Damien Schiff is a staff attorney for Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), the oldest and most successful public-interest legal organization that litigates for property rights, limited government, free enterprise and a balanced approach to environmental regulation, in courts across the country. Mr. Schiff obtained his law degree magna cum laude from the University of San Diego School of Law, and his undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Georgetown University.

This is going to be an eye-opener of a show for a lot of people, says Oshen. SINS OF COMMISSION is a powerful film because it takes people behind the veil of secrecy surrounding the  California Coastal Commission to reveal how the commission operates, and what they do behind the scenes for the first time.

In NOLLAN v. CALIFORNINA COASTAL COMMISSION, (483 U.S. 825) The Supreme Court of the United States called the coastal commission’s practices an “out-and-out plan of extortion.”

In a controversial 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that a requirement by the CCC was a taking in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments… and yet it is inconceivable to think that there is a bill currently on the table, AB 226, that proposes to grant this already power-mad commission even more enforcement power?  If you live in a home along the coast of California… or anywhere else in America - don’t miss this show.

The California Coastal Commission wants your home - part 2

Monday, April 13th, 2009

For over 30 years the California Coastal Commission has overzealously pursued a clear-cut course of action to control private property. The latest example: A big-home ban limiting the size of beach homes, orchestrated by Santa Cruz County,  was upheld by Coastal Commission. 

Pleasure Point residents Barry and Susan Porter sued [Santa Cruz] county two years ago, claiming that [a county] ordinance was unfair, but their lawsuit was put on hold while the ordinance made its way through the approval process.

The Porter argue the ordinance unfairly strips property owners of developable space.

The effort to trim home sizes is not over. County supervisors face a legal challenge to their ordinance, which reduces the amount of land on which a coastal property owner can build.

(Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Every form of tyranny begins by destroying property rights.

The coastal commission's idea of a dream home.

Once the Triple C gets a legal toe-hold and can cut back the size of one home today, they’ve established a precedent, and you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll push for more next year, more the year after, and so on until they  force people out of the coastal zone completely.

Give ‘em an inch, and they’ll take 5 miles inland. 

When agencies of other states see the CCC get away with this, they’ll try it too - and perhaps they’ll try it right where you live…perhaps they’ll even try your house.

Machiavellian schemes like these, often hatched by non-government corporations, foisted upon the public, and enforced by government agencies and commissions with unlimited legal resources, weaken what remains of our liberty.  

Policies like these are usually implemented without public knowledge and more importantly voter input. Driving a single family into bankruptcy goes unseen. 

If the right to life is the source of all rights, the right to property is their only implementation. Without property rights, no other rights are possible. Since man has to sustain his life by his own effort, the man who has no right to the product of his effort has no means to sustain his life.

- Ayn Rand 

Perhaps there needs to be an organization of people? People who live in homes and are tired of coastal  commission’s abusive actions. 

A recent discussion about SINS OF COMMISSION on TALK ABOUT, a blog of the HALF MOON BAY REVIEW got so heated, it  was closed on February 25th. There were well over 300 comments to that thread, making it the second most commented-on thread ever on TALK ABOUT.

Perhaps then, it is possible. People can stop the California Coastal Commission, and other quasijudicial agencies like them whatever state they are in, from destroying one of our essential freedoms along the way- the right to own property and be secure one’s home. 

If one freedom goes, so do all the others  - eventually.  

California Coastal Commission - Dastardly Villains Strike Again

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

Dan and Denise Sterling plus their four children have been living in a mobile home since buying their land a decade ago, while attempting to secure a building permit for an approximately 6,000 square-foot home.

From a legal perspective, what the Coastal Commission is demanding is flat-out unconstitutional

-David Breemer, Pacific Legal Foundation

The Commission should abide by the United States Constitution. The Supreme Court’s doctrine on this issue has been well-settled for 20 years, when PLF beat the Coastal Commission in Nollan.

The Coastal Commission seems determined not to give us a fair shake. We spent two years trying to do everything the staff of the Coastal Commission asked, but nothing was enough. What’s really happening here is that we’re being forced to give this land over as a park or open space for the community, but we still pay taxes on it, and are still responsible for the other liabilities of property ownership

-Dan Sterling

The U.S. Supreme Court has clearly said that governments can’t use the building permit process to extort property from the permit applicant.

The Commission is exploiting the Sterlings’ permit application as an opportunity to seize property from the Sterlings - without paying a penny for the vast agricultural easement the Commission wants - and that’s illegal.

-David Breemer, Pacific Legal Foundation

The California Coastal Commission wants YOUR home - part 1

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Treachery on the California Coast!

Dan and Denise Sterling's four children

Dan and Denise Sterling's four children

A family in El Granada filed suit against the California Coastal Commission Wednesday to retain a 143-acre piece of Coastside property without converting part of it to farmland.

Plaintiffs Dan and Denise Sterling sought to build a house on their land and, in applying for a building permit, hit a snag, according to the Pacific Legal Foundation. 

[T]he Coastal Commission will not grant them [Dan and Denise Sterling] a building permit unless they give the state an agricultural easement over most of their property - more than 140 acres - and pledge that it will be forever dedicated for farming or cattle grazing.”

“In essence, the commission is trying to force the family into the farming or ranching business - and trying to coerce them into turning their property into perpetual open space, without being compensated a penny,”

-Harold Johnson, Pacific Legal Foundation

The Sterlings have been living in a mobile home since buying the land, all the while attempting to secure a building permit for an approximately 6,000 square-foot home. They have continued to graze cattle. The homesite would not displace any land being farmed or used for grazing. In 2006, they finally acquired a permit from the County, but it was appealed to the Commission by the Commission.

Commission staff recommended a permit imposing an “affirmative” agricultural easement the Sterlings’ land

After substantial delay, the Commission finally held a hearing on the Sterlings’ proposal on February 5, 2009. At the hearing, the Commission staff recommended a permit condition requiring imposition of an “affirmative” agricultural easement on all of the Sterlings’ land outside their 10,000 square foot building area. The Commission approved it. The condition requires the Sterlings to dedicate an easement to a public or publicly approved trust group which requires the land to be farmed forever.

The condition allows the holder of the easement to come in on the Sterlings’ land…

The Sterlings object to the condition because it prevents them from ever subdividing their land, transfers their development rights to the public, and imposes an affirmative servitude on their land. They have requested PLF’s assistance in obtaining a judicial ruling striking down the easement condition.

(Source: Pacific Legal Foundation)



 
 
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