California Coastal Projects Hit Fresh Wave Of Delays

Gregory N. Weiler was quoted in a June 24th issue of Law360 about the developmental hurdles projects face along California’s coast.

Projects along the state’s 800-mile-long coast are subject to the California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA"), which can be sufficient enough to discourage developers, but construction along the coast also falls under the purview of the California Coastal Commission, a state agency tasked with preserving and maintaining public access to the California coast.

With the ever-increasing time to approval on the minds of developers, lawyers are helping developers identify key aspects of projects — such as beach access — the commission might take issue with.

"We hire consultants to ... make every possible compromise we can so we can get through the sausage grinder with some kind of economically viable project," said Weiler.

While many California coastal cities have in place extensive codes developers must navigate to win local project approval, the Coastal Commission can step in and challenge such city approvals. And recently, it has expanded its review powers to delay or block an increasing number of deals.

What ultimately transpires, lawyers say, is that developers determine it's better to modify — or call off — their projects than attempt to overturn a denial by the commission. Such denials are challenged in state appellate courts, and can ultimately end up in the state Supreme Court.

Gregory N. Weiler is a partner of Palmieri Tyler, who practices in the firm's Real Estate Practice Group. 

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