On 09/10/2015 PROTECT THE SANTA MONICA COAST filed an Other - Declaratory Judgment lawsuit against SUNSHINE ENTERPRISES, LP. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Santa Monica Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is CRAIG D. KARLAN. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Pending - Other Pending
Los Angeles County Superior Courts
Santa Monica Courthouse
Los Angeles, California
CRAIG D. KARLAN
PROTECT THE SANTA MONICA COAST
COAST PROTECT THE SANTA MONICA
SAND AND SEA INC.
SUNSHINE ENTERPRISES LP
OCEAN AVENUE MANAGEMENT LLC
BRIGGS CORY J.
BRIGGS CORY JAY
GAINES & STACEY
STACEY SHERMAN LOUIS
9/10/2015: Civil Case Cover Sheet
12/18/2015: Case Management Statement
12/29/2015: Case Management Statement
1/4/2016: Minute Order
9/6/2016: Case Management Statement
9/12/2016: Case Management Statement
9/19/2016: Minute Order
2/6/2017: Minute Order
7/21/2017: Minute Order
9/11/2018: Minute Order
3/15/2019: Minute Order
6/6/2019: Minute Order
at 08:30 AM in Department N, Craig D. Karlan, Presiding; Trial Setting Conference - Held - ContinuedRead MoreRead Less
Minute Order ( (Trial Setting Conference)); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
at 09:00 AM in Department N, Craig D. Karlan, Presiding; Trial Setting Conference - Held - ContinuedRead MoreRead Less
Minute Order ( (Trial Setting Conference)); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
at 09:30 AM in Department N; Non-Jury Trial - Not Held - Advanced and VacatedRead MoreRead Less
at 08:30 AM in Department N; Final Status Conference - HeldRead MoreRead Less
at 08:30 am in Department WEN, Craig D. Karlan, Presiding; Final Status Conference - CompletedRead MoreRead Less
Minute order entered: 2018-09-11 00:00:00; Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
at 09:01 AM in Department N; Status Conference (Status Conference; Trial Date Set) -Read MoreRead Less
at 09:01 am in Department WEN, Craig D. Karlan, Presiding; Status Conference (RE STATUS OF THE COASTALCOMMISSION ACTION IN DEPT 86:) - Trial Date SetRead MoreRead Less
Case Management Statement; Filed by Protect the Santa Monica Coast (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Answer; Filed by Sunshine Enterprises, LP (Defendant); Sand and Sea Inc. (Defendant); Ocean Avenue Management LLC (Legacy Party)Read MoreRead Less
Answer to Complaint Filed; Filed by Attorney for DefendantRead MoreRead Less
Proof-Service/Summons; Filed by Attorney for PlaintiffRead MoreRead Less
Proof-Service/Summons; Filed by Protect the Santa Monica Coast (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Summons Filed; Filed by Attorney for PlaintiffRead MoreRead Less
Complaint FiledRead MoreRead Less
Civil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Protect the Santa Monica Coast (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Summons; Filed by PlaintiffRead MoreRead Less
Complaint; Filed by Protect the Santa Monica Coast (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Case Number: SC124724 Hearing Date: September 17, 2020 Dept: N
Plaintiff Protect the Santa Monica Coast’s Motion for Summary Judgment or, Alternatively, Summary Adjudication is DENIED.
Plaintiff Protect the Santa Monica Coast to give notice.
The purpose of a motion for summary judgment or summary adjudication “is to provide courts with a mechanism to cut through the parties’ pleadings in order to determine whether, despite their allegations, trial is in fact necessary to resolve their dispute.” (Aguilar v. Atl. Richfield Co. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 826, 843.) “Code of Civil Procedure section 437c, subdivision (c), requires the trial judge to grant summary judgment if all the evidence submitted, and ‘all inferences reasonably deducible from the evidence’ and uncontradicted by other inferences or evidence, show that there is no triable issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” (Adler v. Manor Healthcare Corp. (1992) 7 Cal.App.4th 1110, 1119.)
“On a motion for summary judgment, the initial burden is always on the moving party to make a prima facie showing that there are no triable issues of material fact.” (Scalf v. D. B. Log Homes, Inc. (2005) 128 Cal.App.4th 1510, 1519.) A defendant moving for summary judgment or summary adjudication “has met his or her burden of showing that a cause of action has no merit if the party has shown that one or more elements of the cause of action . . . cannot be established, or that there is a complete defense to the cause of action.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (p)(2).) “Once the defendant . . . has met that burden, the burden shifts to the plaintiff . . . to show that a triable issue of one or more material facts exists as to the cause of action or a defense thereto.” (Ibid.) “If the plaintiff cannot do so, summary judgment should be granted.” (Avivi v. Centro Medico Urgente Med. Ctr. (2008) 159 Cal.App.4th 463, 467.)
“When deciding whether to grant summary judgment, the court must consider all of the evidence set forth in the papers (except evidence to which the court has sustained an objection), as well as all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from that evidence, in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment.” (Avivi, supra, 159 Cal.App.4th at p. 467; see also Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (c).)
Here, Plaintiff Protect the Santa Monica Coast (“Plaintiff”) moves for summary judgment or, alternatively, summary adjudication, of its claims for declaratory and equitable relief and civil penalties on the ground Defendants Sunshine Enterprises, LP, Sand and Sea Inc. d/b/a Shore Hotel, and Ocean Avenue Management LLC (“Defendants”) “initially and intentionally built the Shore Hotel within the coastal zone without a valid CDP.” (Mot., p. 2, line 20.) Plaintiff argues there is no triable issue of material fact as to the first cause of action for development without a valid coastal permit or second cause of action for intentional development without a valid coastal permit.
In support of this motion, Plaintiff presents the following facts, which are mostly undisputed by Defendants: In 2009, Defendants received approval for Coastal Developmental Permit (“CDP”) No. 5-09-040 to replace two low-cost motels, located within the coastal zone, with a new low to moderately priced hotel, and the California Coastal Commission (“the Commission”) approved the project as an in-kind replacement of existing affordable accommodations. (Pl.’s UMF Nos. 1-2.) In June 2009, the Commission mailed a Notice of Intent to Issue Permit, upon satisfaction of certain special conditions, and the notice explained the procedure for issuance of the CDP, as well as the special conditions to be met, with the CDP to expire in two years. (Pl.’s UMF No. 3.) The special conditions listed in the notice were not met, and the CDP eventually expired by its terms in June 2011. (Pl.’s UMF No. 4.)
Nonetheless, Defendants proceeded with the demolition, and in January 2014, the Commission sent Defendants a Notice of Violation letter, notifying them that the Shore Hotel was built without a valid CDP. (Pl.’s UMF Nos. 5, 8.) In January 2015, Defendants applied for a second CDP to obtain after-the-fact approval for the demolition and construction, but the Commission denied the application, finding the proposal was inconsistent with the Coastal Act, as it did not protect or provide for lower-cost visitor accommodations and did not provide sufficient mitigation for loss of affordable accommodations resulting from the demolition of the preexisting motels. (Pl.’s UMF No. 9.)
Around the time Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit, collateral litigation took place between the Commission and Sunshine Enterprises LP, and the trial court found in the other action that the Commission had properly denied the project due to the failure to protect or provide lower-cost visitor accommodations or to provide an adequate mitigation fee. (Pl.’s UMF Nos. 10-12.) The Commission subsequently issued a Notice of Intent to Commence Cease and Desist Order and Administrative Civil Penalty, and a staff report followed, detailing the violations committed by Defendants and how to resolve the outstanding issues. (Pl.’s UMF Nos. 14-15.) Later, in March 2017, Defendants and the Commission entered into a Consent Cease and Desist Order and Administrative Civil Penalty, and per the terms of the agreement, Defendants were ordered to pay a monetary penalty and to include mitigation fees in their application for another after-the-fact CDP. (Pl.’s UMF Nos. 16, 18.)
On December 12, 2019, the Commission considered Sunshine Enterprises LP’s application for CDP No. 5-18-0872; staff recommended approval of the application with conditions. (Pl.’s UMF No. 19.) The CDP was approved on the same date and included a mitigation fee, along with the construction of specific low-cost hostel rooms and programs to provide low-cost accommodations to visitors of the coast. (Pl.’s UMF No. 20.)
The evidence provided establishes there is no triable issue of material fact as to whether the Shore Hotel was constructed as a result of demolition and construction without a valid CDP. As such, the burden shifts to Defendants to demonstrate a triable issue of material fact remains as to Plaintiff’s claims.
In opposition to the present motion, Defendants argue there is no legally justiciable cause of action currently at issue in that the relief sought herein has been accomplished by the Commission in the normal discharge of its duties. Defendants contend the complaint has been mooted by the Commission’s actions, there is no current controversy between the parties, there is no action of Defendants to enjoin, and there are no penalties for the Court to assess against Defendants. Notably, Plaintiff concedes “[t]he Commission’s settlement with Defendants moots Plaintiff’s pursuit of monetary penalties, but it does not affect Plaintiff’s claims for declaratory relief and injunctive relief.” (Mot., p. 2, lines 15-16.) The Court is not so convinced.
Plaintiff seeks relief to prohibit Defendants from undertaking any further construction-related activities unless and until a CDP is issued; a CDP has issued, and the Commission determined outside this action that Defendants violated the Coastal Act.
Plaintiff’s complaint seeks a judgment determining that Defendants failed to comply with the Coastal Act. However, in that the Commission already made such a finding, Plaintiff does not qualify for declaratory relief, as it must establish “(1) a proper subject of declaratory relief, and (2) an actual controversy involving justiciable questions relating to the party’s rights or obligations.” (Jolley v. Chase Home Finance, LLC (2013) 213 Cal.App.4th 872, 909, quotation marks and brackets omitted.) There is no controversy involving justiciable questions where the Commission has adjudicated this issue and found Defendants violated the Coastal Act.
Plaintiff also seeks injunctive relief prohibiting Defendants from undertaking any construction-related activities on the Shore Hotel until a CDP is issued. Again, however, A CDP has issued, such that there is no basis for injunctive relief.
Lastly, Plaintiff concedes its prayer for penalties has been mooted.
As such, the Court finds Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate it is entitled to judgment in its favor, and therefore, Plaintiff Protect the Santa Monica Coast’s Motion for Summary Judgment or, Alternatively, Summary Adjudication is DENIED.
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