For Immediate Release
Contact: Donna Yamagata
San Rafael, CA, April 10, 2013--Marin Superior Court Judge Duryee today granted the Alternative Writ of Mandate filed Friday, April 5 on behalf of the Alliance for Local Sustainable Agriculture (ALSA), by Zachary Walton, Chris Wade, Liz Bridges, and Corie Calfee of the SSL Law firm, against the California Coastal Commission (CCC).
The writ requires the CCC to show good cause why cease and desist and restoration orders (Orders) issued against the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm February 7, 2013 should not be withdrawn. The hearing date is July 9.
Petitioners Phyllis Faber and ALSA were pleased with today’s decision. ALSA spokesperson, Donna Yamagata, said “We are deeply appreciative of the work of our pro bono legal team and of the court’s decision. The Court’s insistence on a review is especially important since the Orders inexplicably contradict the Marin County Local Coastal Plan, previously approved by the CCC.”
ALSA views the Orders as violating both the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the Coastal Act and believes they would actually cause environmental harm to the Estero. The Petition noted that CCC staff’s affirmative exclusion from the record of substantial evidence that the Orders would cause significant negative environmental impacts constitutes a violation of CEQA. Remarkably, the CCC argued that evidence of harm from the Orders should not be considered at all.
In addition, while the Coastal Act declares that the Commission may not adopt regulatory controls over aquaculture that duplicate or exceed those of the California Fish and Game Commission (CFGC) and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the Orders disrespect CFGC authorization of shellfish cultivation in Drakes Estero as regulated by CDFW.
The Coastal Act and the Local Coastal Plan (LCP) support sustainable aquaculture as a coastal dependent use; both are disrespected by the CCC Orders. Although the Coastal Act requires the CCC to support agriculture and, specifically, aquaculture, CCC staff has misused the Coastal Act to undermine working landscapes of the California coast, threatening the viability of Marin’s agricultural infrastructure and the State’s aquaculture.
ALSA and Faber reiterated their strong support for both the California Coastal Act and the LCP. Said octogenarian environmentalist and former Coastal Commissioner Phyllis Faber, “our purpose with this lawsuit is to remind the Commission of its statutory obligation to comply with CEQA, respect CFGC’s Constitutionally delegated authority, and to support aquaculture, agriculture and other coastal dependent uses and visitor services in California.