Harmony landowners sue Coastal Commission
A family that owns property along the coast of northern San Luis Obispo County has sued the California Coastal Commission over its decision in August to require public access to a mile-long stretch of coastline.
The family trust — led by sisters Denise McLaughlan, Sharyn Schrick, and Sandra Bowman — owns 400 acres near the small town of Harmony. The property has one house and a barn that was nearly destroyed in a storm, according to the lawsuit.
The family has been seeking permits since 2002 to rebuild the barn and remodel the home. The Coastal Commission granted a permit in August, but as a condition it required the family to keep a strip of oceanfront land, a mile long and 25 to 50 feet wide, open to the public.
In a complaint dated Oct. 7, the family asked for a San Luis Obispo County Superior Court order to reverse the Coastal Commission’s decision. The family trust is represented by Pacific Legal Foundation, one of California’s most prominent property-rights firms. In a statement announcing the suit, the firm called the Coastal Commission’s easement requirement an unconstitutional “land grab” with no connection to the proposed home and barn repairs.
Coastal Commission representatives could not immediately be reached for comment. In an August report to the full commission, the Coastal Commission staff said the barn rebuilding would remove an existing point of public coastal access, which is protected by state law. “This existing public accessway at the subject site is the only immediate shoreline accessway along the stretch of Harmony Coast where the (Pacific Coast) Highway is located inland of the coastal range,” the Coastal Commission report said.