The California Coastal Commission is at it again this year. State Senator Noreen Evans from Santa Rosa has introduced SB 588. SB 588, which would give the California Coastal Commission the ability to levy penalties in amounts no less than $5,000 and no more than $50,000 for each occurrence that the Commission alleges to be a violation of the Coastal Act. Without any proof or judicial process you can be fined these massive amounts and driven out of business or even off your land.
SB 588 was heard in the Natural Resources and Water Committee on Tuesday, March 22, 2011. Unfortunately the bill passed through this committee, but we will have more opportunities to stop this in the near future. As soon as this bill is introduced again we will get this out on the blog so everyone can write or call the committee members to ask them to vote NO on this bill.
Here is a letter that many of us sent off to the Natural Resourses and Water Committee:
To: The Honorable Fran Pavley Chair, Natural Resources and Water Committee
California State Senate
Fax: (310) 314-5263
Re: STRONGLY OPPOSE SB 588
granting Coastal Commission unilateral authority to levy huge penalties to fund its programs
Dear Senator Pavley,
As an agricultural landowner in California I strongly oppose SB 588, which would give the California Coastal Commission the ability to levy penalties in amounts no less than $5,000 and no more than $50,000 for each occurrence that the Commission alleges to be a violation of the Coastal Act. The California Farm Bureau Federation also strongly opposes this bill.
Since the Coastal Act defines Development in Section 30106 to include any “…change in the density or intensity of use of land…” and “… change in the intensity of use of water,” the ability for the Commission to determine, without judicial review, what constitutes a violation is very problematic for farmers and ranchers. The Commission has a well-established history of imposing an overly-broad interpretation of what constitutes “development.”
This bill would also amend the Coastal Act Section 30823 to divert all funds derived from these penalties and redirect them into a “Coastal Act Services Fund” to use for its own enforcement activities, thereby giving the Commission further incentive to aggressively pursue all alleged violations while generating revenue in direct conflict of interest with the separation of powers required by the California Constitution.
If SB 588 becomes law, it would unconstitutionally empower the Coastal Commission to unilaterally bypass the courts and act as the accuser, prosecutor, judge, executioner and beneficiary.
Ranchers and farmers are already saddled with enough regulations without having to be at risk for unwarranted complaints about their lands or agricultural operations, and the costly fines, legal fees and liens that would follow. This “guilty until proven innocent” approach would set a dangerous precedent throughout the state, impair agriculture production and devastate coastal home and property values. Please do not allow this!
Thank you for voting against SB588 and protecting the California Constitution.
Cc: California State Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee Members:
Senator Doug La Malfa (Vice Chair) (R-Richvale) Fax: (530) 225-3143
Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) Fax: (831) 769-8086
Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) Fax: 707-576-2773
Senator Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) Fax: (661) 323-0446
Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) Fax: (619) 645-3144
Senator Alex Padilla (D-San Fernando Valley) Fax: 818-901-5562
Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) Fax: (831) 425-5124
Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) Fax: (707) 454-3811