Two Rulings Reject Hollister Ranch Owners Latest Efforts
Two recent court rulings have rejected the Hollister Ranch Owner Association's attempt to disqualify a local judge and overturn a February 2019 decision.
This week the California Court of Appeal issued a one-sentence ruling rejecting an appeal filed by Hollister Ranch. Hollister sought to overturn a decision in February of this year that found a proposed Settlement Agreement was unfair to the public.
In a separate ruling issued last week, a San Luis Obispo Judge also rejected a second motion by Hollister to disqualify Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Colleen K. Sterne, who has presided over the case for the past five years, based on arguments that Judge Sterne was biased.
Currently, four state agencies: the Coastal Commission, Coastal Conservancy, State Parks and State Lands Commission, are updating a plan for public access to all 8.5 miles of Hollister Ranch beaches. Hollister Ranch landowners have argued that public access should be banned or restricted.
Lead Counsel Ellison Folk of the Gaviota Coast Trail Alliance, an ad hoc alliance of coastal and environmental justice community organizations, stated, “The Hollister Ranch owners keep finding new ways to lose in their fight to prevent public access to the California coast.” Phil McKenna, the Alliance’s Chairperson, explained, “The Alliance is committed to securing reasonable public access to Hollister Ranch’s beaches and the completion of the Coastal Trail.”
Legislation proposed last week by Santa Barbara Assemblymember Monique Limón sets deadlines for that process and consequences if plans for access to Hollister Ranch are delayed.
A series of development permits requested by Hollister owners have been appealed, and the Coastal Commission has an open enforcement case against Hollister for driving on the beach.