More Lawsuits Filed in Drakes Bay Oyster Co. Case

Farm will stay open during, at least temporarily

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Drakes Bay Oyster Co. and a citizens' group have filed two similar but separate lawsuits in Marin County Superior Court to challenge  recent California Coastal Commission orders that would require the oyster  farm to curtail its activities.

    The two lawsuits, both filed on Friday, are not part of a federal  case in which the farm at Point Reyes National Seashore is challenging a  decision by U.S. Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar to close it.

    Life After Drake's Bay Oyster Company

    [BAY] Life After Drake's Bay Oyster Company
    Kevin Lunny's struggle to keep his family's oyster farm running in Point Reyes National Seashore appears to be over, closing out an era of oysterman plying the park's pristine waters and ushering in the nation's newest ocean wilderness. Joe Rosato Jr. reports. (Published Friday, Nov 30, 2012)

    In the federal case, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of  Appeals is due to hear arguments in San Francisco on May 14 on the company's  appeal of Salazar's decision to deny it a permit extension and thereby enable  the site to return to wilderness.

    The court has allowed the farm to continue operating during the  appeal.

    One of the Superior Court lawsuits was filed by the Marin  County-based Alliance for Local Sustainable Agriculture and Phyllis Faber, an  alliance member who is a former Coastal Commission member.

    The second was filed soon afterwards by the oyster company.

    Both suits allege the orders issued by the commission on Feb. 7  "would effectively shut down the farm," even if it wins its federal case,  through expensive requirements for removal of certain equipment and changes  in its operations.

    "The effect of the operational constraints, cultivation  restrictions and other work immediately required would be so financially  onerous on the family-owned farm as to cause it to cease operations," both  lawsuits say.

    Zachary Walton, a lawyer for the alliance, said Superior Court  Judge Lynn Duryee Wednesday morning scheduled a July 9 hearing on the  alliance's request for a ruling overturning the commission orders.

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    Walton said he was not aware of any request by the oyster farm for  a similar hearing, but noted that the farm could seek to participate in the  July 9 session either as a so-called "real party in interest" in the alliance  lawsuit or in connection with its own lawsuit.

    Richard Idell, a lawyer who filed the oyster company's Superior  Court lawsuit, was out of town and not available for comment Wednesday.

    Amy Trainer, the executive director of the Environmental Action  Committee of West Marin, said, "This corporation has made millions of dollars  cultivating shellfish in our public waters without any coastal permits, yet  thinks the coastal protection rules of California somehow do not apply to  it."

    Life After Drake's Bay Oyster Company

    The committee has participated in the federal case by filing  friend-of-the-court briefs supporting Salazar's decision.