sins of commission


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Posts Tagged ‘private property’

California Coastal Commission - paganism, politics, and proportionality

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend 2009 -California, USA


pro·por·tion·al (prə-pôr’shə-nəl, )

  1. Forming a relationship with other parts or quantities; being in proportion.
  2. Properly related in size, degree, or other measurable characteristics; corresponding: Punishment ought to be proportional to the crime.
  3. Mathematics. Having the same or a constant ratio.


One of the quantities in a mathematical proportion.

proportionality pro·portion·al’i·ty (-shə-nălĭ-tē) n.
proportionally pro·por’tion·al·ly adv.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Proportional Rights

Proportional Rights are responsibilities. In regards to the California Coastal Commission’s regulatory focus, many along the coast who have been and continue to be bearing the brunt of state supported tyranny think there needs to be remodeling of the system from top to bottom, yet that most vital and necessary of constitutional discourses, an open, free, debate seems to be missing.  If it is supposed to take place at a California Coastal Commission meeting… fuggedaboutit.

I describe myself as a Radical Pagan Heretic

-Peter Douglas, Executive Director, California Coastal Commission

The California Coastal Commission is being led by a self-proclaimed pagan and I want to find out what the heck he is talking about.  But before I proceed, let me be clear that this article is not a discussion about anyone’s right to hold any religious beliefs,  and the freedom to practice those beliefs.  Mr. Douglas put it out there - so lets find out, shall we?

Radical Paganism

Since the later 20th century, “Pagan” or “Paganism” has become widely used as a self-designation by adherents of  Neopaganism  

Neo-Pagan religious movements are extremely diverse, with beliefs that range widely from polytheism [ many deities] to animism, [it is generally accepted that "animism" refers to the belief that non-human entities,... plants, as well as inanimate (spiritless) objects such as rocks, can have souls.

( Source: Wikipedia)

Rocks may have souls but they don't vote, at least on this planet, at this time - or at least not legally.  So, if it comes down to a rock being safe and secure on their land ...or people being safe on me crazy...but I'm going to stand with the people...and you can quote me on that.

Viewing the leader of the California Coastal Commission, through the prism of paganism, one can begin to see why people, especially people with families are held in such low regard and how fire may play a role in shaping more than the environment in California.

In one fell swoop, we can understand how an omnipotent organization, (all three branches combined is in essence omnipotent) lead by an unelected person with an very different from mainstream American, philosophical beliefs, could have created a system out of proportion with human rights.

This is  why our founding fathers believed it was important we Americans elect, not appoint our we can vet important things like this that may be contrary to the good of the people.

A coastal act is a good thing. California's coastal act is not, and needs serious repair. First thing that comes to mind is good old-fashioned term limits for a certain coastal czar.  One can easily see, how this ideological demigod - lets face it, who else has been in power for over 30 years...IN AMERICA, can pervert the best of intentions to possibly fit an ideological/religious agenda.

Socialism Ascendant

Arguably, socialism is ascendant in America, on the march from coast to coast with the ever-elusive ideology of “the greater good” (an amorphous buzz-word  akin to "silent majority") in tow, as its calling card to jackboot an individual’s rights.  Not every aspect of Socialism is beneficent. I am an individual and bristle at the notion of collectivism.

Wetlands or wet land?

In this context, it is easy to see how a rut or a pot hole filled with water arms the California Coastal Commission with the means to establish a full blown wetland for the purpose of enacting a taking of private property, and sheds light on how they bend and twist our language to serve the task.

The California Coastal Commission’s definition of development is like nothing remotely humanely reasonable. It is so twisted, that even walking across your own land, according to Mr. Douglas, is now construed as development.

I consider myself a tolerant person. Douglas in word and deed is not.  Perhaps this explains how the DIS-proportionality of punishment meted out against people became so cruel?   I’d invite you to see the movie at a film festival and decide for yourself, but the film is being BANNED - or at any rate politically blocked.  Did you know not one California Film festival including San Francisco and Los Angeles will screen SINS OF COMMISSION?  What is everyone afraid of finding out?

Proportionality is not a new concept. They had proportionality in land dealings. Specifically as to those inherent responsibilities and to those assigned by laws like the Assize of Arms in 1181.

Wetlands or wet land?

When you look at the Coastal Commissions fines they are the same for corporation s and individuals. To corps they are water off a ducks back… to people, multiple thousands of dollars per day fines are weapons of mass destruction – because there is no proportion as to form or capacity.

But that is their plan. Bankrupt the people. Pick up their land for pennies on the dollar. AND It is succeeding in California.

Doesn’t it make sense, if you are an American with a sense of fairness from either party, that it is high time we restore the California Coastal Commission to the same civilized standard we use in the rest of our democratic society?

Out with the notion of an autocratic leader, restore the CCC to the norms of a humanistic democratic electoral system, and restructure the current dysfunctional system from the top down.

People deserve better.

Now it is easy to see how the California Coastal Commission’s rhetoric of “freeing” land for the people – is anything but freeing…and nothing good for the people. Yet, not surprisingly, California courts side with the commission most of the time.


Even if you don’t live in California, what happens here is going to set a set precedent for you. Courts love precedent.

On this day when we remember the brave who gave up their lives to defend our country from fascism, say a prayers for California firefigthers and first responders as fire season shifts into gear.

Its time to stand up and protect our rights for us today, and for future generations.

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government : of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address - Thursday, November 19, 1863

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The California Coastal Commission - Unrepentant Sinners

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

The Unrepentant Sins Of The California Coastal Commission
by Ronald A. Zumbrun
Thursday, 12 February 2009

What do the former mayors of Malibu and San Diego, a former member of the California Coastal Commission, and a former captain of the County of Los Angeles Fire Department have in common? In a soon-to-be released documentary film entitled “Sins of Commission”, these former public servants, along with several other aggrieved property owners, describe in painful detail the transformation of the California Coastal Commission as a protector of the environment into a radical bureaucratic monster.

Those who view the Coastal Commission as integral to the battle to protect the coast from “big developers” will be surprised to learn that it typically chooses to pursue fines against individual property owners who lack the resources to fight back.

Consider the plight of Kathleen Kenny, who was fined by the Coastal Commission for building a 742 square-foot cottage on an existing, developed pad in Topanga Canyon, California.

Not coincidentally, the California Attorney General’s Office, which represents the Coastal Commission, imposed the fines and served a lawsuit against Ms. Kenny the same day that a County of Los Angeles building inspector and two sheriff’s deputies showed up at her front door with a search warrant. The building inspector, Grant Lawseth, was miffed when Ms. Kenny published an 8-page newsletter to 3,000 Topanga Canyon residents accusing him of seeking bribes in exchange for Building Department approval.

In an amazing turn of events, a federal jury in 1997 found that Mr. Lawseth had engaged in a continued practice of racketeering and awarded damages to Ms. Kenny under the Federal Racketeering and Corrupt Organization statutes.

Despite Ms. Kenny’s recent death and the astonishing jury verdict, the Coastal Commission’s fine is still on the books against her partner, Arthur Starz, which now exceeds over $2 million.

Sadly, the practice of government extortion of private property owners is not unique to Ms. Kenny. Shortly after the Legislature designated the Coastal Commission as a permanent bureaucratic entity in 1976, the Coastal Commission embarked on an expressed policy of forcing private property owners to relinquish portions of their land to the state in exchange for a building permit––a tactic which the United States Supreme Court in 1987 labeled “an out-and-out plan of extortion” in Nollan v. California Coastal Commission.

Ignoring the high court’s rebuff, the Coastal Commission continues to engage in extortionist tactics. One of the Coastal Commission’s ongoing policy objectives is the creation of hiking trails throughout the Santa Monica Mountains. There is nothing wrong in principle with this policy objective. After all, the state can simply purchase these trails from private property owners, right? Wrong. Instead of paying for the trails, the Coastal Commission has in place the policy of requiring property owners to relinquish a portion of their land for trails in exchange for a building permit––a policy confirmed by Peter Douglas, the Executive Director of the Coastal Commission, in the above-mentioned documentary “Sins of Commission.”

In Nollan v. California Coastal Commission, the Supreme Court held that there must be damage caused by the permit seeker and a nexus or connection to the exaction. Thus, if a home is to be placed on a public path, the permit seeker can be required to dedicate a comparable path to the public. In Dolan v. City of Tigard, the high court clarified the rule: there must be a rough proportionality between the harm to the public and the exaction imposed on the property owner.

The Coastal Commission’s policy willfully ignores a fundamental attribute of private property ownership: the right to exclude others. The Supreme Court has characterized this right as “one of the most essential sticks in the bundle of rights that are commonly characterized as property.” The Coastal Commission deprives property owners of this “essential stick in the bundle of rights” by its extortionist land dedication requirements.

Indeed, the Coastal Commission has even attempted to deprive a property owner of the right to place a “no trespassing” sign on his property, contending that placement of the sign is unpermitted “development.” Thankfully, the California Court of Appeal in LT-WR, L.L.C. v. California Coastal Commission restored sanity and confirmed that Californians still have the right to place “no trespassing” signs on their own property and do not need a permit from the Coastal Commission to do so, notwithstanding the Coastal Commission’s contention that this could potentially interfere with public prescriptive rights. It is disconcerting, to say the least, that the Coastal Commission, backed by tax dollars and the Attorney General’s Office, would take such a position in a court of law in the first place.

Consider also the Coastal Commission’s decision to label chaparral vegetation in the Santa Monica Mountains to be an environmentally sensitive habitat area (ESHA)––a decision without legislative oversight and based solely on the opinion of one so-called “expert” handpicked by the Coastal Commission. This label drastically curtails a property owner’s ability to productively use private property. Even a self-sustaining organic garden would be a prohibited use without a permit. Most of the land in the Santa Monica Mountains contains chaparral. Unfortunately, chaparral also is a primary source of fuel for fires. The ESHA designation precludes fire departments and local governmental entities from adopting their own fire protection measures and prevents private property owners from clearing brush as a buffer in the event of fire. Chaparral has been a major contributor to the recent fires which have plagued the state. Local residents and their governments must now live with a high risk of fires.

And then there is the ongoing plight of Dan Norris and Peggy Gilder, who purchased raw land in Topanga Canyon––not to live on, but to organically garden and hike with their children. The land came with an old, preexisting road, which over time had become obstructed with debris, rocks, and foliage. It never occurred to Norris and Gilder that the Coastal Commission would require a permit to clear a preexisting road to ensure access to private property. After receiving a notice of violation from the Coastal Commission for unpermitted “development” in an ESHA, the Coastal Commission arranged for an inspection of the property. Norris and Gilder wanted to film the inspection to protect their rights, but the Coastal Commission objected to being filmed. Without notice to Norris and Gilder and their legal counsel, the Coastal Commission then sought a civil inspection warrant from a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge to allow the inspection to occur without filming and to allow forcible entry onto the property. Sensing the constitutional implication of precluding a private property owner from filming a government inspection on private property, the judge requested briefing on the issue. Rather than run the risk of an adverse ruling, the Coastal Commission withdrew its request for the warrant.

The California Legislature bears much of the responsibility for the Coastal Commission’s flagrant abuses of power. It created an entity that acts as a legislator (as in the ESHA definition), adjudicator (it hears appeals brought by aggrieved property owners), and executive administrator (imposing fines). The English historian Lord Acton famously remarked that “absolute power corrupts absolutely,” and the Coastal Commission is a prime example. The Coastal Commission’s treatment of Ms. Kenny and numerous others has nothing to do with environmentalism, and everything to do with selective intimidation and violation of basic civil liberties.

Backed by the power of the state’s v’s Office, what chance do private property owners in California have of fighting back? Very little. The vast majority of private property owners are just like Ms. Kenny, who desire only a residence to live in and do not have the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to pay for attorneys to battle the state. In short, only the people through their legislative representatives can make the changes necessary to restore both environmental protection and freedom of property ownership in California.

In the documentary film, Peter Douglas takes delight in describing himself as a “radical pagan heretic” and characterizes property owners who assert their constitutional rights in court as “jihadists.” It is submitted that no one, radical pagan or otherwise, should be acting as judge, jury and executioner over the people of California.

*Ronald A. Zumbrun is Managing Attorney of The Zumbrun Law Firm, a Sacramento-based public issues firm. Timothy V. Kassouni, Legal Director with the firm, substantially assisted in the preparation of this column and also is lead counsel for Dan Norris and Peggy Gilder. You can learn more about The Zumbrun Law Firm at “Sins of Commission” is produced by Richard Oshen of Pacific Coast Highway Productions. See for more information.

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