The Coast News Group
Cities Community Encinitas

State high court denies rehearing in seawall case

ENCINITAS — The Supreme Court has denied a pair of Leucadia residents’ longshot bid for a re-hearing of the case challenging the Coastal Commission’s restrictions on the seawall of their Neptune Avenue homes.

The court denied Thomas Frick and Barbara Lynch’s petition for rehearing on Aug. 9, three weeks after their attorney’s filed for it.

Frick and Lynch sought to challenge the regulatory agency’s imposition of a 20-year expiration date on their permit for a seawall they built after the old structure collapsed during a 2010 storm, as well as the commission’s decision to deny the families a permit to reconstruct a private staircase from their properties to the beach below.

The court ruled in a 7-0 decision July 6 that the owners forfeited their right to sue when they constructed the seawall under those conditions. As a result, the court sidestepped some of the larger issues at play in the case.

Frick and Lynch’s re-hearing petition, however, focused on the staircase, which was never constructed because the commission denied the permit, and the fact that attorneys did not submit briefs on the issue of “equitable forfeiture,” which was the doctrine under which the court ruled against the families.

But the odds were against them from the outset: Between 2006 and 2015, the court received 328 such petitions, granting three.

The families were applying for a permit to build a 100-foot-tall, state-of-the-art concrete seawall to replace their aging wooden one and rebuild the private staircase from their homes to the beach below, after storms in 2010 largely wiped out both structures.

The city of Encinitas approved their applications, but the Coastal Commission stepped in and denied the permit for the staircase and would only allow the families to rebuild the wall with the 20-year stipulation, to which the families agreed.