Stop Coastal Commission Fines SB 588

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

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About mcfarmbureau

Since 1923 Marin County Farm Bureau has helped to protect and improve the ability of farmers and ranchers engaged in production agriculture to provide a reliable supply of food and fiber through responsible stewardship of Marin County resources. One of our main goals is to unite the agricultural community to work together in the formation of policies that affect our lives as ranchers. We work at the local, state, and national level with all of our elected officials to improve legislation and regulations that could be detrimental to agriculture. In 2007 we worked very closely with the Marin County Board of Supervisors during the County Wide Plan update. This close relationship resulted in a much improved plan from where it started, a number of changes to the plan helped benefit agriculture and our farming families. Marin County Farm Bureau prides itself in being the voice of agriculture for Marin’s farmers and ranchers. The Marin County Farm Bureau is a non-governmental, non-profit, voluntary membership California corporation whose purpose is to protect and promote agricultural interests throughout Marin and to find solutions to the problems of the farm, the farm home and the rural community. On a state level, Farm Bureau is California’s largest farm organization, comprised of 53 county Farm Bureaus currently representing approximately 76,500 members in 56 counties. Farm Bureau strives to protect and improve the ability of farmers and ranchers engaged in production agriculture to provide a reliable supply of food and fiber through responsible stewardship of California’s resources. Farm Bureau is organized on a county, state and national basis-in that order. The county Farm Bureau is the nucleus of the organization. It is here that members join by payment of nominal annual dues which entitles them to the wide range of services and benefits of
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