Judge rules against couple who planned to build home above Pirate's Cove

Pirate's Cove in Avila Beach.
Pirate's Cove in Avila Beach. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Superior Court Judge Martin Tangeman has ruled that the California Coastal Commission acted properly when it denied a permit to build a house on a hillside overlooking Pirate’s Cove.

Robert and Judith McCarthy had plans to build a 5,500-square-foot home along with a secondary residence and garage on the ocean-facing side of Ontario Ridge. The county approved the project, but the commission denied it at a hearing in January 2013.

The commission determined that the project violated the local coastal plan (LCP) for the area because the home would have been visible from many locations along the coast and lacked a reliable water source. The McCarthys sued the commission to overturn the decision.

Tangeman ruled that there was not sufficient evidence to conclude that the project lacked a reliable source of water, but the concerns about the visual impacts and other issues were adequate to deny the project.

“In summary, the court finds that substantial evidence supports the commission’s findings that the project is inconsistent with the goals and policies set forth in the LCP,” he wrote.

The home is not the only run-in the family has had with the commission. Earlier this month, the commission issued a notice of violation and a cease-and-desist order against the family over fences, gates and signs that had been installed without the necessary permits on their property along a popular trail on top of Ontario Ridge.

The McCarthys argued that the installations were necessary to protect them from liability and trespassing. They offered to negotiate a relocation of the trail to make it safer, less steep and usable by more people.

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