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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.

Time for PETER DOUGLAS to take a hike

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

California Coastal families, farmers, and ranchers are not enemies of the state and deserve equal protection under the law.

Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.

-Thomas Jefferson

We celebrate our Nation’s Birthday in a few days. It’s a good time to reflect on what we Americans stand for…and what we don’t.  At a time we are fighting tyranny overseas, let us not forget to stand up to tyranny in our own backyard.

There is a concept in America we call “term limits”. They apply to everyone in office, including  Peter Douglas, Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission. Can anyone name someone besides Mr. Douglas who has reigned in office as long as Sir Peter?

In a Monarchy, kings reign… in a democracy, elected officials serve the people - all of the people for limited terms.

-Richard Oshen filmmaker

Amendment 22 to the United States Constitution ratified February 1951, specifies term limits for the President of the United States. Seems that Mr. Douglas thus declares himself to be above the constitution. Like the rights to property Mr D despises, he seems to view the constitution as a petty annoyance.

In a 1997 speech at a conference in Monterey…Peter Douglas called for the U.S. Constitution to be amended to make courts the “arbiters” in what he called the “debate” over property owners’ rights. That seems to be the issue right there, Mr. Douglas:

Property rights is not a debate. It is the LAW OF THE LAND.

Me thinks this is the trouble in a nutshell. Did Mr. Douglas or did he not take a Civil Service oath to defend and protect the constitution of the United States? If he did, he hasn’t done a good job of it… if not it is a charade on scale unparalleled in California, possibly the nation, and must not be permitted to stand any longer.

In my 90 minute interview with Peter Douglas for SINS OF COMMISSION, Mr. Douglas makes a bold, provocative statement on camera that he is not a civil servant - Question: If Mr. Douglas is not a civil servant, then who or what does Peter Douglas serve?

I was appointed on a seven to five vote. And there have been at least 11 attempts to get rid of me over the years because people don’t, for whatever reason, uh, can’t control me. And I’m (Stammers) the only non-civil service employee of the Coastal Commission. Everybody else is civil service.

- Peter Douglas, SINS OF COMMISSION

If he is not a civil servant…all the more reason to to send him packing. Especially after the Ramirez Canyon travesty SHAME ON YOU!

Time to break up the CCC’s corrupt fiefdom, especially with so many overlapping regulatory agencies in the state. It seems to me the resource agencies can be streamlined - trim the fat, and become much more efficient thus saving an already overburdened budget, and WE the people, lots of money.

The commission’s little scheme works like this: The governor selects 4 commissioners, the speaker 4 and legislature 4 then, they in tern, keep anointing Peter, over, and over, and over again. If that isn’t a racket, a shell game…what do you call it? I call it time for Term Limits. You serve a term, or two -just like the president… then thank you , and buh-bye!

Protection of the environment and protecting our human rights guaranteed under the constitution  ought not be at odds with each other, they support each other, and need each other to survive. Douglas has cunningly put them at odds and uses it to wage class warfare.

-Richard Oshen, Filmmaker

People are inseparable from the land…although the Triple C is trying real hard.

Billion Dollar fires that need not be.

Americans have the constitutional right to own property, Mr. Douglas. ALL their property…and to be secure on that property.

Property Rights is not a privilege like a drivers license - it is an inalienable right.

Mr. Douglas, it seems, does not like the idea of we the people owning land at all, yet he owns land…and a house.

Property and property rights are what separates free men from serfs and indentured servants.

Take away the right to own land and be secure on it and people can never be secure.

Once upon a time, thirty plus years ago, it sounded like a good idea to isolate the CCC from the politics of politics.The point is, over time, that seemingly “good idea” to isolate a regulatory commission from our democratic electoral process contributed mightily to its corruption and, along the way, made it subservient to its political patrons - not the people of the state of California.

-Richard Oshen, Filmmaker

Combining all three branches of government into one entity for “expediency” is a Kangaroo court. It is what the coastal commission has become: writer of its own laws, enforcer of the laws they write, judge, jury, and executioner. That is not America.

Who protects the people?

Not the government of California - and certainly not the attorney general of the state.

The attorney general is litigating the people on behalf of the Triple C to the tune of upwards of $ 2 billion dollars per year. They are using our own money to fight us.

Where are the CCC’s checks and balances? The answer, sadly, for all of us is…there are none.

A dysfunctional coastal commission handsomely benefited the big picture plan of certain self-interest Non Governmental Oragnizations to such a degree it appears the CCC is their de facto enforcer - the legal muscle in the service of the elite ones who secretly contribute to them - not the people of California.

Tom Hayden tried to break up this little PONZI SCHEME back in1988, but it was soundly defeated by the same elitist interests that still pull the CCC’s strings today.

Last year Senator Denise Ducheney introduced a bill that would prohibit the commission from appealing itself. Which to this writer, sounds like a very normal thing to do - to prevent a commission from appealing itself  It too was squashed by these same NGOs and their elite supporters.

Where is the legislative oversight?

There is much more to it….the politics of fire…the devaluation of property,  destruction of the family farm, more open space than we can afford, the destruction of infrastructure from lack of property taxes, people living in fear of retribution if they speak out. The CCC is not the STASI.

When the governor of our state tell us education must be sacrificed because there is no money left, and you cast your eyes up to dark billowing clouds of smoke, and expensive leased aircraft zooming overhead, when a fleet of weed-wackers could have prevented all or most of it - you begin to see the huge scope of the disaster by these Pirates of California.

The tyranny by small imperceptible changes that has been obscured for the last 30+ years comes into focus and once seemingly isolated dots connect.

-Richard Oshen, filmmaker

Yes, well past time for Mr Douglas to go - but to go not because someone is anti this, and someone else is pro that, but because no one is above the law.

It is time we, the people of California get down to the business of determining the Coastal Commission’s next chapter post  Douglas and whether we repair or replace the California Coastal Commission.

It is time for a change in California.Time to breathe fresh air into a stale decadent demagoguery.

General Motors held on to their self righteous beliefs to the very end. We cannot afford to.

The future of California hangs in the balance.

SINS OF COMMISSION needs your help. A work print of the film and “other” material is being subpoenaed by the California Coastal Commission. I believe this is an egregious violation of our 1st Amendment Rights.

If you’ve ever considered making a donation to help the film finish or want to defend freedom of speech, now is the time. All donations made through our fiscal sponsor, The International Documentary Association, a 501 c3 non profit, are tax deductible.

Please click the link on the navigation bar, or you may send a check by mail:

The International Documentary Association
1201 West 5th Street, Suite M270
Los Angeles, CA  90017

attention: Fiscal Sponsorship

Please mark your check “for the account of Sins of Commission”

Thank you.

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.  

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)

California Coastal Commission documentary gets first review

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

SINS OF COMMISSION got its first review today. Getting a review from a film critic would normally be a proud moment shared with friends and loved ones. A time to crack open a bottle of champagne and celebrate. But for me, it is a joyless solitary moment filled with torment as I toss and turn to reconcile within why someone in the “comments” section would call me a “criminal” who is supposedly “on the lam from justice” for making a film.

What crime did I commit? What charges are against me? And who is my my accuser that hides in the shadows of anonymity? Come forward and be seen.

Let he who is without sin among you, cast the first stone…

SINS OF COMMISSION is a film I never wanted to make, never intended to make, but felt compelled to make.  Why did I do it? Beacuse, for me, and hopefully for you,  once a truth is known, it cannot be unknown. One person sent an e-mail today and simply said, “thank you.” 

My husband and I have been battling the CCC for 13 years…My husband had a heart attack in 1998 from all of the stress from dealing with them and their lies and craziness -

Kathleen Kenny died from colon cancer one year after I interviewed her. Other people,  people you may know or possibly neighbors you have have heard about, suffered the slings and arrows of persecution thrown at them with impunity by commissioners appointed by the highest officials in our state - simply because they audaciously wanted to live on land they purchased. This should not stand. We must do better.

Something is rotten in the state of California but by suppressing SINS OF COMMISSION, that dirty dark secret will not be brought out into the sunlight of truth for all of us to see, to debate, to comment upon, to ponder, to talk amongst ourselves, and do such things as we do in a democracy. We must do better.

If you are an independent documentary filmmaker in a country in which independent journalism is seen as a danger to those in power, you are talking a risk. But preserving democracy for all means risks must be taken. Democracy is not a spectator sport.

At stake is more than just freedom of expression.  We Americans live in a country built on the principle of separation of powers - where power is separated into three distinct branches of government that are supposed to check and balance each other so there can never be an accumulation of absolute power in any one branch. This is not a Conservative principle, this is not a Liberal principal, it is not a Democratic principle, it is not a Republican principle…it is an American principle- and we must do better.

Any agency of any state or regulatory commission that embraces all 3 branches of government, in direct opposition of our principle of the separation of powers - even for the “noblest of intentions” - needs to be reevaluated.  Unfettered power still corrupts - and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Sins of Commission exposes Southern California’s law makers

Ginger Liu
Inside Hollywood Examiner
California Bush Fire

By taking on the California Coastal Commission head on, this riveting and intelligent documentary from Richard Oshen exposes the archaic and unbending rules of power on the lives of ordinary homeowners

The story unfolds naturally as we first sympathize with the rule makers in preventing the destruction of habitat by homeowners until the CCC quite remarkably shoot themselves in the foot as dogmatic rules and corruption unfold. The film shows all sides with interviews from couples that have fought the CCC for years, ex CCC staff that believe in the Commission but not their strict laws, and the Commissioners themselves who are absolute and unwavering.  

No one is denying the purpose of a commission that protects Southern California’s rich landscape. Oshen’s film dares to question authority and in doing so ignites the kind of investigative journalism that has been sadly missing during Bush years.

A link to Ginger’s article and comment stream Inside Hollywood Examiner

The Edge of Reality

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

THE EDGE BUYS LAND IN MALIBU

When I first read “The Edge of Destruction” by CRAIG STEPHENS in LA WEEKLY, the first thing that hit me was the provocative headline.  Mr. Stephens knows how to sell a story. He knows if the headline read: Malibu Welcomes The Edge or The Edge Brings Much Needed Jobs To Community or The Edge Contributes Handsomely To Property Taxes In Malibu - no one would notice.

But Mr. Stephen’s headline identifies a huge problem in Coastal California and the rest of America. One that I call DA-IS-NA-ID. Do As I Say, Not As I Do.

The other thing I noticed is that the people complaining already live there, and obviously built something themselves or moved into a house someone else built.

I wonder if they were subject to the same kind of scrutiny and contempt they so freely demonstrate for The Edge. Their home affected the environment too. So what is the underlying issue? An Archery Range?

Had a lot of fun at Malibu Mountain Archery Range. Put a bunch of holes in the paper targets. Liked to see all the Boy Scouts out there camping on a weekend. All the kids learning how to use a bow and arrow, cook, camp out and hike. Glad someone is exposing the no good x&%!@ that would throw out a charity

There is plenty of land already preserved in the State of California. Out of California’s 99,882.700 Acres 42,288,380 is already owned by the state or the feds for a total of 42. 36% 

That’s a lot of acres of public land available for archery, not to mention the Archery club could potentially find a better spot somewhere else in the huge, already well preserved, Santa Monica Mountains. (Source: www.nrcm.org/documents/publiclandownership.pdf).  What is the real issue with The Edge’s new home? What It really boils down to is old-fashioned American prejudice.

 DA-IS-NA-ID

I read down the list of comments. One after another, people just grumble, spout and spew, but one thing is for certain…they are pissed! So pissed,  they threaten not to buy the latest U2 album. 

Reminds me of frothing folk who burned their John Lennon records way back when for saying ” the Beatles were bigger than Jesus.”  The times, they have have sure changed.

People now refuse to buy a record because someone wants to build home in their neighborhood.

This has nothing to do with whether these projects/Obama are good or bad, it has to do with U2’s hypocrisy. So am I stunned to find out that they don’t live up to the same environmental standards that they demand from the little guy? Nope! We are supposed walk to work; they ride in private his and her jets

How did Obama get into this? Is he moving in too? Please tell me which U2 record is calling people e to walk to work? Also please tell me whose environmental standards are we supposed to live up to? Yours? 

Are we all now socialist workers of the world?

Have we hung up our American individuality to don identical black burkas and lock step to work? Are we now supposed to look over our shoulders or peer out from behind dark curtains to see what the other is doing, rather than pay attention to ourselves? 

In the 1950’s we had a RED SCARE in this country. Many of you probably remember Senator Joe McCarthy. Many people were accused of being UN-AMERICAN and black listed.

The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigated communist organizations. The HUAC came into being because they wanted to prove that a lot of actors and writers were communists.

Is this where we are going? Are we witnessing the beginning of a GREEN SCARE?  Someone not living like us, doing something different from us?  

A few folks raised the issue why that land wasn’t purchased by others - or even the conservancy? Good question.

I am sorely confused. Was land purchased by David Evans, or not? If he has the money to buy a swath, why shouldn’t he? He worked hard; he earned it. If he wants to build a house for every member of his family, why can’t he? 

Other people even had the gall to mention the biggest bugaboo of all …property rights. Two words that are as evil as a rapist, baby killer, or mass- murderer judging by one fellow’s comments:

Have property rights? Yes, and within the law you can be be immoral, teach your kids to be racists and never deal with ethics or fairness. You may be as greedy and uncaring as the law allows. You may do what you want with your property and never consider your neighbors, your community, your city or the planet. Under the law in other countries you can torture and kill your wife.

Whew…I guess in his world, wife killing and property rights go hand in hand. But this fellow did say the magic words “Under the law in other countries…” Let’s read them again, shall we, Under the law in other countries…

What the respondent seems to have forgotten is that we are in AMERICA, and under American law, The Edge has constitutional rights - just like him, or any of the other folk who wrote in. But why talk about the constitution, say you, that’s a right-wing issue, isn’t it?  Says who - and since when?

Constitutional rights and Environmental protection are not mutually exclusive of each other. Both need great care and our due diligence to insure we have freedom and an healthy environment for future generations. So what is the solution?

Here is a novel concept: Why not welcome The Edge into the community and thank him for the bread he will be putting on the tables of the many who will be employed building whatever he builds.

The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, set in 17th-century Puritan Boston, and tells the story of Hester Prynne, who gives birth after committing adultery, and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity.

Most Puritans were a strict, unfeeling, and unforgiving lot. Hester was scorned by women who felt  she deserved a larger punishment than she actually received.

Instead of only being made to stand on the scaffold and wear the scarlet letter on her chest, they suggest that she have it branded on her forehead or even be put to death.

 

It is to the credit of human nature, that, except where its selfishness is brought into play, it loves more readily than it hates.  Hatred, by a gradual and quiet process, will even be transformed to love, unless the change be impeded by a continually new irritation of the original feeling of hostility.  ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, Chapter XIII

Shall we do the same to The Edge?



 
 
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