The appellate case Hubbard v. Coastal Commission (Case No. B249835, July 31, 2019) arose from a seemingly small matter. The Coastal Commission granted a coastal development permit (CDP) to the real party, Malibu Valley Farms, to rebuild an equestrian facility following a fire. Opponents, Save Open Space Santa Monica Mountains, challenged the CDP, alleging that the development application misrepresented local approvals that Malibu Valley Farms had received from local agencies, such as the Los Angeles County Environmental Review Board.

The Coastal Commission issued its first set of findings regarding the CDP in 2007. During the entitlement and public hearing process, Malibu Valley Farms asserted it had obtained appropriate preliminary approvals from local agencies regarding construction related to riparian areas and appropriate set-backs. A local group challenged this approval on the grounds that the Commission improperly relied on Malibu Valley Farms’ assertion that it had obtained appropriate local approvals. In response, the Coastal Commission issued revised findings in 2009, without reliance on references to any local approvals. Appellants challenged this second approval by the Coast Commission, arguing that the CDP must be revoked for not containing complete and accurate information regarding local permits, among other grounds.

The Second District Court of Appeal rejected the arguments raised by appellants. The appellate court agreed with the Coastal Commission that permit revocation would only be justified pursuant to 14 CCR section 13052 if misleading or inaccurate information in the permit application would have led to a different decision by the Commission. However, in this case, the Commission’s findings indicated that the same results would have been reached either way. Thus, substantial evidence supported those findings, and the appellate court upheld the Commission’s determination.