Drakes claims violation of act

02/06/2014

Drakes Bay Oyster Company filed a cross-complaint against the California Coastal Commission last week, claiming that its failure to process the oyster farm’s coastal permit application and the actions it has taken against the farm constitute a violation of the Coastal Act because of the law’s provisions safeguarding aquaculture. “The Coastal Act requires the Coastal Commission to permit, protect, and promote aquaculture of the type practiced by Drakes Bay. The Coastal Commission has violated these statutory requirements,” the filing states. The cross-complaint alleges that a 2007 consent order required the commission to process Drakes Bay’s application for a coastal permit once the park service completed an environmental impact statement, but that the commission has not issued a permit since that statement was released in Nov. 2012. (Both sides claim the other caused the breakdown of negotiations over the permit.) The cross-complaint cites both provisions of the Coastal Act calling for the protection of aquaculture and steps taken by the commission to discourage aquaculture. Among other things, the C.C.C. ordered the farm earlier this year to must remove invasive didemnum, which Drakes Bay says is impossible. The cross-complaint is the latest filing in a court battle that began last April, when two suits accused the commission of not undertaking an environmental review of cease and desist orders it issued to the farm. (Those suits were subsequently combined.) The coastal commission argued that it was not subject to the state’s environmental review laws. The suit was put on pause by a Marin judge in July pending the farm’s litigation with the federal government, and the two sides are currently in settlement talks.