Judge Rules for Public Agencies But Action Has Not Curbed Zeal of Lagoon Plan Foes
• Critics of Reconstruction Talk about 'Manning Barricades'
BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith has rejected a lawsuit that attempted to block California Coastal Commission approval of State Parks' Malibu Lagoon Restoration and Enhancement Project.
The controversial project, which involves draining, dredging and re-contouring the western portion of the lagoon and removing the wooden bridges that provide public access through the center of the lagoon, has generated strong opposition in the Malibu community.
The Wetlands Defense Fund, Coastal Law Enforcement Action Network and Access for All filed a petition for writ of mandate against the project, and succeeded in obtaining a temporary restraining order, which prevented the project from breaking ground in June.
On Thursday, the judge ruled against the arguments presented by the petitioners, finding that the Coastal Commission adequately analyzed all feasible alternatives to the project and selected the least detrimental option.
Goldsmith also found that the project's mitigation measures were sufficient, and ruled that the removal of the existing wooden bridges would not have a substantial impact on public access.
The ruling clears the way for the project to move forward in June 2012, unless an appeal is filed. Opponents are also discussing civil protest.
An official draft of the final ruling signed by the judge is expected to be released later this week.