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5 Things to Consider if Your Property is in the CA Coastal Zone

If you own property or a house in the California Coastal Commission's jurisdiction (the "Coastal Zone"), and you're in need of a coastal development permit, here are five things you should know and consider.

(1) As part of the application to the California Coastal Commission (CCC) or to the local jurisdiction, you will be required to have your local approvals (or tentative local approvals). Therefore, you need to do the following:

  • Determine which municipality issues permits (e.g., city or county);
  • Research the current zoning designation on the property;
  • Review and understand the zoning designation and its applicability to your project;
  • Review and understand the building codes applicable to your project; and
  • If the property in question is a mobilehome or mobilehome park, you need to determine whether the local jurisdiction or State of California issues permits under the Mobilehome Parks Act (MPA).
  • Note: For the repair or rehabilitation of the mobilehome, the State of California has the exclusive jurisdiction over the building codes under the MPA.

(2) Some local jurisdictions administer the California Coastal Act of 1976 under their certified Local Coastal Program (LCP).

  • If the local jurisdiction has authority to approve or deny your application, the local jurisdiction decision can generally be appealed by you or anyone who has appeared at the local jurisdiction hearings;
  • Once a decision is final, and if you do not agree with the decision, or any part thereof, you can file a lawsuit against the local jurisdiction and/or Coastal Commission, as appropriate; and
  • To file a lawsuit, you must have entered "evidence" into the record for each hearing and/or decision.

(3) Simply because the Coastal Act says you can or cannot do something, does not mean that is how the Coastal Commission interprets the statute. You must also be sure to consult the regulations adopted by the CCC; however, beware that there are certain conditions of approval which are not found in the statute or regulations that may be proposed by staff.

(4) Before commencing the project, determine whether the amount of time and money needed is worthwhile. You need to be careful to consider additional costs such as filing fees, engineering costs, and other related reports. It's better to know this before starting the project rather than receiving a rude surprise down the road.

(5) Interview and hire the appropriate experienced experts to assist you (i.e., engineer, contractor, attorney, etc., as required). Please note that these experts should be knowledgeable of all jurisdictions (e.g., the local jurisdiction, the Coastal Zone, etc.). Often times, these experts will be crucial in walking you through the complicated permitting phase 

L. Sue Loftin is the Founder and Managing Shareholder of The Loftin Firm. For questions relating to this blog or any other California real estate, corporate governance, land use, or estate planning matter, contact Ms. Loftin at (760) 814-9649. 

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