In Bowman v. California Coastal Commission, opinion on rehearing published October 23, 2014, the Second District Court of Appeal, Division 6, reversed a judgment denying a property owner's petition for writ of mandate challenging a requirement that a property owner dedicate a coastal easement as a condition of repairing its property. When the owner's predecessor in interest purchased an unoccupied property in San Luis Obispo. He applied to the county for a coastal development permit to allow him to fix the property up for habitation. After the predecessor passed away and a successor trust took over the property, the CDP was granted, conditioned upon dedicating a lateral easement along the shorefront portion of the property. The rationale was that occupation of the property would increase the intensity of the use. The period for the owner to challenge the condition passed without the owner appealing the condition. The county code actually exempted the work to be done from the need for a CDP. No work was done under that CDP. Nine months later, the owner applied for another CDP to conduct further remodeling and repair, and for removal of the easement condition. The county approved the CDP. Public interest groups appealed the easement condition's removal to the California Coastal Commission. The Commission ruled that the easement condition was permanent and binding. The trial court declined to issue a writ of mandate reversing the ruling.
The appellate court ruled that the trial court had abused its discretion. The easement condition was an unconstitutional exaction and a taking, because there was no rough proportionality between the condition and work on a private residence a mile from the coast. While normally a party's failure to timely seek a writ of mandamus will collaterally estop the party from later challenging a quasi-judicial administrative decision, there is an equitable component to collateral estoppel. Here, under the circumstances, it would be inequitable to apply the doctrine to uphold an easement requirement that never should have been imposed.