Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Feduniak v. California Coastal Comm'n (Cal. Ct. App. - March 27, 2007)

Tough life.

Robert and Maureen Feduniak spend $13,000,000 to buy a house on a 1.67 acre parcel of property on the 17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach that contains a private three-hole pitch-and-putt golf course (called "Fan Shell Greens") that surrounds the house. Not bad. Needless to say, the coolness factor of having your own private golf course in Pebble Beach is a key reason the house went for a cool 13 mill. And that was seven years ago.

Problem is, the surrounding golf course clearly violates the 1983 Coastal Commission permit that authorized the building of the house, since the permit expressly requires the surrounding land to be devoted to natural grasses and the like. A prior owner basically totally ignored the permit when he built the private golf course. And the Coastal Commission did utterly nothing about it. Impressive enforcement regime, huh?

The trial court found that the Coastal Commission was estopped to require the Feduniaks to restore the land to its natural condition (consistent with the permit) because everyone in the world knew that this prominent house had a private golf course on it. But Justice Rushing reverses. No more private pitch-and-putt for you, Mr. and Mrs. Feduniak. Looks like you should have looked up the permit before you shelled out $13 million. Time to sue everyone and their mother -- the seller, the title company, the brokers, etc. -- associated in any way with the transaction, eh?

So enjoy Fan Shell Greens while you can, my friends. It'll probably be native dune plants and grasses soon enough.