America’s ‘Greenest City’ Sued in Effort to Halt Coastal Act Violations And Illegal Dumping of Debris Onto San Francisco Beaches

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Press Advisory:  8/23/11

America’s ‘Greenest City’ Sued in Effort to Halt Coastal Act Violations And Illegal Dumping of Debris Onto San Francisco Beaches

The California Coastal Protection Network (CCPN) has filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court, County of San Francisco, aimed at halting years of coastal resource destruction by the City and County of San Francisco related to unpermitted and illegal dumping of rocks, discarded concrete sidewalks, road pavements, metal poles and rebar and other dangerous rubbish and debris onto area beaches and within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.  The lawsuit is one of the largest enforcement actions ever brought under the Coastal Act.  

The lawsuit comes on the heels of a unanimous decision by the California Coastal Commission on July 12, 2011 determining that all dumping of debris by the City over at least the last 17 years is illegal.

CCPN is a nonprofit organization with a long history of having worked with members of the public, other environmental organizations, legislators and the Coastal Commission on numerous high profile coastal protection issues, including offshore oil & gas drilling, liquid natural gas terminals, toll road highways and the impacts of underwater noise on whales and other marine mammals.  

“CCPN sees this lawsuit as the next logical step to support the efforts of state leaders, public activists and the Coastal Commission to force San Francisco’s Department of Public Works to comply with the law. CCPN looks forward to the day when San Francisco removes the debris they have illegally dumped in the ocean and near shore area and begins the implementation of thoughtful, resource protection based long term planning,” commented Susan Jordan, Executive Director of CCPN.

The California Coastal Act prohibits any development in the Coastal Zone without authorization by the Coastal Commission.  Development is broadly defined and encompasses the activities of the City and County of San Francisco at Ocean Beach.  Where the violations are done knowingly, as in this case, the civil fines can be as large as $15,000 per day per violation.  “As there have been multiple violations for several years, the amount of fines in this action are substantial,” said Vic Otten who is an attorney representing CCPN.

“As a long time resident of San Francisco and enthusiastic user of Ocean Beach and lover of California beaches, it has been frustrating to watch the City ignore environmental groups, elected officials and state agencies in their zeal to destroy our most precious environmental and economic asset,” said Mark Massara, an environmental attorney and coastal advocate.  “I very much look forward to the restoration of one of California’s most scenic and highly valued coastal recreational areas, and rehabilitation of the City’s beleaguered environmental reputation,” said Massara.

For more information:
Mark Massara, Esq.      805-895-0963
Vic Otten, Esq.             310-378-8533
Susan Jordan        805-637-3037


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