URBAN RENEWAL AGENCY OF CITY OF MONTEREY v. CALIFORNIA COASTAL ZONE CONSERVATION COMMISSION

Reset A A Font size: Print

Court of Appeal, First District, Division 4, California.

URBAN RENEWAL AGENCY OF the CITY OF MONTEREY and City of Monterey, Plaintiffs and Respondents, v. CALIFORNIA COASTAL ZONE CONSERVATION COMMISSION, et al., Defendants and Appellants.

Civ. 35054.

Decided: April 21, 1975

Evelle J. Younger, Atty. Gen., Carl Boronkay, Asst. Atty. Gen., Roderick Walston, Richard C. Jacobs, Deputy Attys. Gen., San Francisco, for defendants and appellants. William C. Marsh, City Atty., Monterey, Richard C. Salladin, W. Reece Bader, Steven A. Brick, Orrick, Herrington, Rowley & Sutcliffe, San Francisco, for plaintiffs and respondents.

The Urban Renewal Agency of the City of Monterey and the City of Monterey have obtained a judgment of the superior court for issuance of a writ of mandate compelling the California Coastal Zone Conservation Commission and the Central Coast Regional Commission for Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties to exempt the city and the agency from the permit requirements of the California Coastal Zone Conservation Act (‘the Act’) (Public Resources Code, § 27000 et seq.) with respect to a project adjacent to the Monterey waterfront. The two commissions have appealed.

The city and the agency began planning the project here in dispute in 1959, and have made important expenditures in furtherance of the plan. The trial court determined that the project was therefore exempted from the jurisdiction of the commissions, by terms of the ‘grandfather’ clause in the Act: ‘§ 27404. If, prior to * * * November 8, 1972, any city or county has issued a building permit, no person who has obtained a vested right thereunder shall be required to secure a permit from the regional commission; providing that no substantial changes may be made in any such development, except in accordance with the provisions of this division. Any such person shall be deemed to have such vested rights if, prior to * * * November 8, 1972, he has in good faith and in reliance upon the building permit diligently commenced construction and performed substantial work on the development and incurred substantial liabilities for work and materials necessary therefor. Expenses incurred in obtaining the enactment of an ordinance in relation to the particular development or the issuance of a permit shall not be deemed liabilities for work or material.’

Respondents point out that another provision generally defines ‘person’ to include ‘any agency of federal, state and local government’ (§ 27105). But the grandfather clause does not apply generally to any ‘person’; it applies only to a ‘person who has obtained a vested right.’ There is nothing in the enactment to suggest that entities of local government are intended to be given vested rights against the state.

The vested rights doctrine is based on the constitutional guarantee that property may not be taken without due process of law. (Transcentury Properties, Inc. v. State of California (1974) 41 Cal.App.3d 835, 844, 116 Cal.Rptr. 487.) A municipal corporation has no standing to invoke these constitutional guarantees in opposition to acts of the State Legislature. (Hunter v. Pittsburgh (1907) 207 U.S. 161, 28 S.Ct. 40, 52 L.Ed. 151; State of California v. Marin Municipal Water Dist. (1941) 17 Cal.2d 699, 705, 111 P.2d 651.) Being creatures of the state, municipal corporations have no standing to invoke the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment in opposition to the will of their creator. (Coleman v. Miller (1939) 307 U.S. 433, 59 S.Ct. 972, 83 L.Ed. 1385.) The state may destroy the corporation; it may also take without compensation property held and used by a local entity for governmental purposes. (Hunter, supra.) Therefore, the rights that respondents claim, to be exempt from the permit requirements of the Act, are not mandated by the Constitution, and have not been created by the Act.

The local agencies also contend that an alternative basis for the doctrine of vested rights is the equitable doctrine of estoppel. They cite cases where governmental approvals were sought by private builders. The controversy here concerns subsidiary government entities, and equitable estoppel does not apply. (See City of Coronado v. San Diego Unified Port District (1964) 227 Cal.App.2d 455, 471, 38 Cal.Rptr. 834.)

The judgment is reversed with directions to dismiss the petition.

CHRISTIAN, Associate Justice.

CALDECOTT, P. J., and EMERSON, J.*, concur.

Copied to clipboard