Marshall Tavern owners sue

02/14/2013

Owners of the Marshall Tavern late last week filed a lawsuit against the California Coastal Commission, claiming the agency has imposed unduly restrictive conditions on their attempt to restore a property whose vacancy stretches back more than two decades.

The lawsuit, filed in Marin County Superior Court on Friday, challenges what East Bay owners Daniel Altman and Avi Atid contend are “unconstitutional” conditions placed on a building permit issued two months ago by the state agency.

The owners said they are negotiating with the commission to either loosen or remove what Mr. Altman called “a lot of conditions that really are restricting us and disabling us” from converting the property into a Bed and Breakfast.

Among the stipulations is a requirement that the owners cede ownership of an adjoining property to the state. “That’s not legal, in our opinion,” Mr. Altman said. The Pacific Legal Foundation, a national watchdog group, filed the suit before exceeding a 60-day deadline to appeal any provisions included in the permit.

The owners said the property, which they have tried to sell at least twice since purchasing it in 2004, has been saddled with the requirements of a stringent permitting process involving a range of impact studies that have led former owners to abandon development plans.

But “we weren’t sleeping,” said Mr. Altman, an architect who said he has handled similar situations in the past. “I know how to do this.”

The property is currently for sale, though Mr. Altman said he and Mr. Atid may reconsider taking it off the market in the coming weeks, depending partly on the outcome of negotiations.

“…Getting the permits in this area [is] a harder task than to actually build it,” Mr. Altman said late last month.