04-05-2013 Alliance for Local Sustainable Agriculture files lawsuit against CA Coastal Commission

On April 5, 2013, the Alliance for Local Sustainable Agriculture (ALSA) filed a Petition For Alternative Writ of Mandate with Marin Superior Court against the California Coastal Commission (CCC).


ALSA has joined with Phyllis Faber, a long-time Marin County environmental activist and member of the first California Coastal Commission, to challenge Cease and Desist and Restoration orders (Orders) the CCC recently adopted that will effectively shut down the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm (DBOF), the single most important sustainable shellfish aquaculture operation in the state, located within the Point Reyes National Seashore.


ALSA views the CCC action as violating both the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the Coastal Act. The Petition notes that CCC staff affirmatively excluded from the record substantial evidence that the Orders would cause significant negative environmental impacts. This exclusion constitutes an egregious violation of CEQA. Further, 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 effectively trample CFGC authority over shellfish cultivation in Drakes Estero as regulated by CDFW.


Both the Coastal Act and the Local Coastal Plan (LCP) support sustainable aquaculture as a coastal dependent use; both are disrespected by CCC orders that regard picnic tables as coastal development and require DBOF to undertake the physically impossible task of removing a non-native species from the Estero for which it bears no responsibility and which occurs along the entire Pacific coast. The Coastal Act requires the CCC to support agriculture and specifically, aquaculture, but CCC staff has misused the Coastal Act to undermine working landscapes of the California coast, threatening the viability of Marin’s entire agricultural infrastructure.

ALSA strongly supports both the California Coastal Act and the LCP. This lawsuit is, regrettably, necessary to remind the Commission of its statutory obligation to comply with CEQA, respect CFGC Constitutionally delegated authority, and to support aquaculture, agriculture and other coastal dependent uses and visitor services in California.


ALSA is represented pro bono by Zachary Walton of the SSL Lawfirm, with his colleagues Chris Wade, Liz Bridges, and Corie Calfee.


For more info contact: Donna Yamagata, at 415-669-9691, or at alsamarininfo@gmail.com.


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