Inverness trail stripped of permit

06/20/2013

An Oakland couple’s retroactive permit for a private trail they built from a second home in Seahaven to the shores of Tomales Bay was nullified last Friday when the California Coastal Commission found merit in an appeal against it. The Environmental Action Committee of West Marin appealed the county’s April approval of Peter Rumsey and Anna Edmondson’s 261-foot trail, which descends about 85 feet, includes a staircase that extends down the bluff face and ends with steps on the beach. The commission deemed the project appealable because it involves development on a coastal bluff, is located between the sea and the first public road paralleling it, and is within 100 feet of a wetland. The owners have four to six months to follow up with the commission on their now-unlawful addition. Despite the superseding ruling, tight resources mean the commission must rely on the county to ensure the couple comply. Bridger Mitchell, board president of the EAC, expressed skepticism that the county would enforce regulation of a voided structure that it had once approved. “Since it’s back in the county’s hands, they’re going to be watched closely by the coastal commission to see that they don’t drop the boat,” Mr. Mitchell said. In a letter to coastal commissioners, Mr. Rumsey wrote that he and his wife did not realize the trail would need a permit and that they “fully cooperated” when the county contacted them. He added that the EAC’s appeal included comments about an engineer’s assessment of their trail, indicating that their property was entered without permission. The couple are eager to invite inspection of their estate, he wrote, “but we would like those individuals to request access and approval in advance.”