Environmental Law

– Nollan Vs. CCC Essay, Research Paper Environmental Law Nollan vs. CCC Abstract of: 483 U.S. 825, 97 L. Ed.2d 677 James Patrick Nollan, et ux., Appellant

– Nollan Vs. CCC Essay, Research Paper

Environmental Law

Nollan vs. CCC

Abstract of:

483 U.S. 825, 97 L. Ed.2d 677

James Patrick Nollan, et

ux., Appellant


California Coastal


Case Definition:

The case is Nollan versus the California Coastal Commission. The

Nollans were the appellates against a decision made by the California

Coastal Commission (CCC).

The Nollans had been leasing a property on the California coast with

which they had an option to buy. The property lies directly at the foot

of the Pacific Ocean and is a prime piece of real estate on the

California Coast. The property had been used by the Nollans to rent out

during the summer months to vacationers. At the end of the Nollans?

lease they took the option to purchase the land and began preparing for

the terms of purchase by the previous land owner. Among those terms was

the demolishing of the small deteriorating bungalow that the Nollans had

been leasing. The Nollans had planned to expand the structure from the

small bungalow that it was to a three bedroom house more complimentary

to the surrounding homes and their needs. In order to begin destruction

of the property and begin rebuilding the site the Nollans had to secure

a permit from the California Coastal Commission. Upon submitting the

permit application, the CCC found that the permit should be granted on

the condition that the Nollans provide public access to the beach and to

the local county park, which lay adjacent to the property. This

provision called for the Nollans to use a portion of their land to be

used as a public walkway to the beach and park. The Nollans protested

to the condition, but the CCC overruled the objection and granted the

permit with the condition intact.

Case Decision:

The Nollans filed a petition to the Ventura County Superior Court

asking that the condition to supply easement be removed from their

permit. The Nollans? argument was that there was not enough evidence to

support the developments limiting of public access to the beach. The

argument was agreed upon by the court and the case was remanded to the

California Coastal Commission for a full evidentiary hearing on the

issue of public access to the beach.

The CCC held a public hearing which led to further factual findings

which reaffirmed the need for the condition. The CCC?s argument was

that the building of the new structure would limit view of the ocean,

and therefore limit access to the public who had full rights to use the

beach. To compensate for the limitations on the public the Nollans

would have to provide access to the beach from their property. The CCC

also noted that all of the other developments on the same tract of land

had been conditioned similarly in having to provide public access to the


The Nollans filed a supplemental petition for a writ of administrative

mandamus (a writ that would order a public official or body to comply

with a specified duty issued by a superior court). The Nollans argument

was that the permit condition violated the Takings Clause in the V

Amendment, and also in the XIV Amendment of the Constitution.

The court agreed that the administrative record did not provide for in

showing the existence of adverse impact on the publics? access to the

ocean. The court granted the writ of mandamus, and directed that the

public access condition be removed from the permit.

The CCC appealed the case in the California Court of Appeal and won the

decision. The Court of Appeal found an error in the Supreme Courts

interpretation of the Coastal Act which mandates public access to any

category of developments on the coast. The Court of Appeal also found

that the Takings claim was unsubstantiated by the Nollans. The permit

condition did take from the value of the land, but did not restrict them

of reasonable use of their property.

The Nollans then appealed to the United States Supreme Court. The

argument made by the Nollans continued to revolve around the Takings

Clause in the V Amendment. The Supreme Court found that the requirement

of the permit only put a restriction on the use of the property and not

a ?taking? of the property. The Supreme Court also held the California

State Constitution to have standing, and upheld the ruling made by the

Court of Appeals.

Reasoning for Decision:

I believe that the reason the Supreme Court decided as it did was that

its interpretation of the California State Constitution provided for the

authority of the CCC?s permit regulation. The part within the states

constitution says that access to any navigable waters shall not be

limited by any person when it is required for any public purpose. The

?navigable water? clause infers the actual use of the water and not the

beach itself. The Supreme Court did not want to make a case of this for

intervening in states? constitutions is nasty business; and there was

not a big deal concerning the language of the law from either of the

parties. I think that a similar case could be argued attacking the

Constitution of the State of California concerning the navigable waters

clause. I would still have to agree with the CCC?s permit condition of

allowing public access to the beach, because I like the beach and am in

no position to purchase land bordering it so I need access.