Drakes pleads for due process

02/20/2014

Drakes Bay Oyster Company is asking a Marin Superior Court judge to invalidate orders issued last February by the California Coastal Commission. The farm says it did not receive a fair trial because evidence it submitted was not entered into the official record, and it was not permitted to cross-examine witnesses—a step it says was especially crucial, given the ongoing debate over the farm’s environmental impacts. The coastal commission said the filing that the farm submitted, which was over 500 pages, was “neither timely nor relevant.” Among the orders issued was a requirement to remove a non-native tunicate and Manila clams. Drakes Bay argued in a court filing last week that its submittal to the commission was indeed relevant, and included expert opinions and evidence that Drakes Bay was not harming eelgrass, seals, debris, invasive species and more, as alleged by the commission. Before the start of the February meeting when the orders were made, it was established that the hearing would consist of three parts: the commission would present its case, the farm would give its own presentation and the public would then comment, though the commission afterward responded to the farm’s presentation and public comment. Drakes Bay says that considering the gravity of the situation and that it was a quasi-judicial hearing, due process granted the farm the right to cross-examine commission lawyers so that the basis of the commission’s findings would become clear.