L.A. Superior Court Judge James Chalfant unequivocally rapped the California Coastal Commission on the knuckles today by tossing out its 2007 ex-post facto approval of horse boarding along Stokes Canyon Creek. Chalfant's ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Coastal Law Enforcement Action Network (CLEAN). For decades Malibu Valley Farms, Inc. has boarded horses on property near the creek, a Santa Monica Mountains tributary of Malibu Creek, which runs through Malibu Creek State Park and into Malibu Lagoon and Surfrider Beach.
In 2007, in response to objections by MVF, the CCC overrode its own
advisory staff's recommendation of requiring the facility to observe a
100-foot setback from the creek to avoid contamination from manure and
urine. Stokes Canyon Creek also runs through nearby King Gillette
Ranch, whose grounds (located downstream from MVF) were turned into a public park in 2007.
“They did their best to get the entire state agricultural and horse-breeding communities lined up behind them,” CLEAN managing director Marcia Hanscom says of MVF. “So many elected officials weighed in for them. [CCC Commissioner] Bill Burke led the charge and it included [L.A. Supervisor] Mike Antonovich.”
Judge Chalfant's ruling now sends back to the CCC the question of how
far back MVF's horses need to be moved from the creek. A CLEAN press
release says the group will now ask the CCC to have the project handed
over for review by the County of Los Angeles' Environmental Review
Board and its Regional Planning Department.
“We've always said you can have horses in the mountains,” Hanscom says. “Just not next to Stokes Creek.”
For ruling, click on MVFDecision on Writ of Mandate.pdf