The owners of a 130-year-old former tavern on Tomales Bay have sued the California Coastal Commission to challenge conditions placed on their plan to turn the empty building into a small bed-and-breakfast.
The lawsuit was filed Friday in Marin County Superior Court by Daniel Altman and Avi Atid, owners of the now-vacant Marshall Tavern in the unincorporated community of Marshall.
Altman and Atid are seeking to renovate the building, which partially juts out onto pilings in Tomales Bay, and create a five-unit bed-and-breakfast inn with an additional manager's unit.
It alleges that three coastal-development-permit conditions set by the commission in December, including a requirement for a public walkway, amount to an unconstitutional taking of private property for public use
without due compensation.
The conditions include removal of piers used by the former Marshall Hotel on an adjacent property and a prohibition on development of the former hotel property, in addition to creation of a five-foot-wide public walkway between the building and State Highway One.
"These conditions, if imposed, would effect an unconstitutional taking of their private property, in violation of the United States and California constitutions, because they are not related to the effects of the proposed project and are not roughly proportional to any of the project's effects," the lawsuit claims.
The tavern building was erected by five brothers in the Marshall family in 1873 and was originally a soda shop and hardware store for the use of local fishermen and hunters, according to the commission. An adjacent hotel built by the brothers in 1870 burned down in 1971.
In the 1970s, the tavern was used for concerts by musicians such as Joan Baez, Neil Young, Mimi Farina, and Van Morrison. It subsequently fell into disrepair and has been vacant since 1990.
A spokeswoman for the commission was not available for comment on the lawsuit today.
A report submitted to the commission by its staff in December said the staff had considered whether the permit conditions could be considered an unconstitutional unjust taking of property.
The staff report concluded the conditions would allow a "reasonable use of the property" while accommodating state legal requirements for providing public access and avoiding environmental harm to coastal shoreline and waters.
Altman and Atid are represented in the lawsuit by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a Sacramento-based law firm dedicating to supporting free enterprise and property rights.
-Bay City News