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Landowners Could Not Proceed with Construction While Challenging Permit Conditions

On July 6, 2017, the Supreme Court of California held that landowners could not contest unfavorable permit conditions because they had proceeded with construction during the litigation, forfeiting their challenge. (Lynch v. California Coastal Commission, Case no. S221980 (Cal. 2017)). The court reached this conclusion even though the owners had proceeded with construction under protest and even though the permit was for a protective seawall that could not wait for litigation. The court said the owners should have sought and proceeded under an alternative emergency permit.

The conditions at issue imposed by the California Coastal Commission were (1) prohibition of reconstruction of a stairway to the beach; (2) expiration of the permit in 20 years and limitations on future blufftop redevelopment; and (3) before expiration of the 20-year period, landowners to apply for a new permit to remove/alter the seawall or extend the authorization period.

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