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Court Refuses to Reconsider Coastal Commission Ruling

January 24, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

A state appeals court in Sacramento on Thursday declined to reconsider its ruling that the California Coastal Commission violates the state Constitution.

But in denying the request to reconsider its ruling, the 3rd District Court of Appeal strengthened the notion that the Legislature may be able to resolve the dilemma with bills introduced in Thursday's special session. The legislation would give commissioners fixed terms in office.

The court last month found the Constitution's separation of powers made the panel's makeup problematic because the agency is part of the executive branch and yet a majority of its appointed members are controlled by the Legislature. On Thursday, the court strengthened a notion experts expressed earlier: The court is not as concerned with the Legislature's power to appoint a majority, as it is with its power to remove a majority of commissioners at will.

The Coastal Commission has vowed to appeal the case to the state Supreme Court.

Proposed legislation would continue the Legislature's power to appoint eight of the 12 commissioners, but would ensure that they could not be removed. Instead, their terms would be set for two years.

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