The California Supreme Court Wednesday let stand a court of appeal's decision to affirm a trial court's ruling to reject the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy's plan for overnight camping sites in Malibu.
The SMMC's plan had been supported by the Coastal Commission, which tried to implement sweeping changes in 2009 to Malibu's land use regulations in its Local Coastal Program.
Malibu Mayor Lou La Monte said the city is pleased the court enforced limits on the Coastal Commission's authority.
"Malibu was grateful for the support of the League of California Cities in explaining to the Supreme Court why it was so important to let this case become precedent for all coastal cities. We are pleased that the Court has held the Coastal Commission to limits of its authority," La Monte said. "This case was always about local control and Malibu will never stop defending its right to local control."
Concerned about potential fires, the Malibu City Council in 2007 rejected the plan by the SMMC and its sister organization the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority for overnight camping and other features in the Malibu Parks Public Access Enhancement Public Works Plan. The council also approved some features, including trails, and it passed a measure to ban overnight camping in the city (something the Coastal Commission rejected).
In response, the SMMC took its plan to the Coastal Commission through a rarely used method called a Local Coastal Program Amendment Override. Coastal Commission Executive Director Peter Douglas determined this method could be used.
The city and the Ramirez Canyon Preservation Fund claimed this was not the kind of situation for the override procedure.
In the ruling, a three-judge Court of Appeal panel agreed and found that the Coastal Commission overstepped its bounds by using the override amendment to approve the plan.
"Hopefully, in the wake of the Court's ruling, the city will be able to assume its role in the development of policies and work with the Conservancy to achieve our shared goals of public access, a world-class trail system and wonderful parks," City Attorney Christi Hogin said.