The Drakes Bay Oyster Company, on the heels of winning a 90-day stay of Department Of Interior eviction action by The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Ohio as it seeks a hearing in the U.S. Supreme Court, is playing hard-ball itself in suing the California Coastal Commission.
On Wednesday, Drakes Bay Oyster Company filed a cross-complaint against the California Coastal Commission alleging that the Commission has violated its obligations under the Coastal Act to permit, protect, and promote aquaculture.
“The Coastal Commission has not acted in good faith and must be held accountable,” said Phyllis Faber, a Marin County environmental activist and biologist who was a founding member of the Commission. “Instead of working to protect the coast in keeping with its charter, the Commission has violated the law and abused its power. Drakes Bay Oyster is an environmentally-sound local business that is part of our local heritage—exactly the sort of coastal use that the Commission was formed to protect.”
The support of aquaculture is an important part of the Coastal Act, the law that established the Commission and governs its actions. The law recognizes that “existing developed uses” such as the 80-year old oyster farm are “essential to the economic and social well-being of the people of this state and especially to working persons employed within the coastal zone.”
The Commission has not only failed to fulfill its charter to protect and promote aquaculture, it has also repudiated agreements it made with the oyster farm to process its permit once the Park Service made public its environmental review. That review was made public in November 2012, but the Commission has continued to withhold the permit.
Drakes Bay has submitted a complete permit application, paid all application fees, and submitted all information required by the Coastal Act. The operations Drakes Bay has proposed for permitting are consistent with all applicable Coastal Act policies.
The complaint sets out five counts on which the Commission is in violation of the Coastal Act, and asks for several types of relief, including a declaration that the Commission has violated the law, an injunction requiring the Commission to process the permit, and civil penalties.
The Coastal Commission case is separate from the oyster farm’s pursuit to appeal their eviction with the Supreme Court but is also ongoing and significant to their continuation as a local business and environmental partner to the area.