On July 2, 2017, the California Supreme Court issued its opinion in Lynch v. California Coastal Commission, __ Cal.5th __ (Case No. S221980), holding that the owners of two coastal bluff properties in Encinitas forfeited their right to challenge the California Coastal Commission’s permit conditions by complying with all pre-issuance requirements, accepting the permit, and building the seawall.
Since 1986, the properties have been protected by a shared seawall, with wooden poles, at the base of the bluff and a midbluff erosion control structure. A shared stairway provided the only access from the blufftop to the beach below. In 1989, the Commission retroactively approved a coastal development permit for the seawall, midbluff structure, and stairway. In 2009, the owners applied to the City to replace the aging seawall and midbluff structure with an integrated concrete wall and to rebuild the lower portion of the stairway. The City approved the project, subject to the Commission’s approval of a coastal development permit. But while the owner’s permit was pending, heavy winter storms caused the bluff below one of the owner’s homes to collapse, destroying portions of the seawall, midbluff structure, and stairway.