Owners of Historic Marshall Tavern Sue Coastal Commission Over Permit

Want to build a bed and breakfast at the location and have sued the commission, which requires public access to coast; Tavern hosted well-known musicians before closing in 1990.


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

Alex Horvath February 10, 2013 at 07:51 PM
These folks were naive, to put it nicely, to open a business on Tomales Bay and not expect to comply with Coastal Commission guidelines. Also, to use the word "concert", as the writer describes the famed musician, is a bit of a stretch. Musicians may have performed at Marshall Tavern, but it was small and intimate -- not like a big concert.
Concerned Citizen February 10, 2013 at 11:00 PM
A "concert" is a "concert", big or small, so to argue that point is....well.....pointless. I'll tell you what Alex, how would you feel, if you OWNED the property in question BEFORE the county changed the rules? Those property owner's were NOT naive, they simply got screwed because they bought the land based on the previous ability to be developed. How can you not see that?
David Keller February 12, 2013 at 07:33 AM
Due diligence on the part of the new owners would have confirmed long-time requirements for all of California's coast: the public is guaranteed access to our coast. This pioneering and important legislation was passed by California voters decades ago, and has been through the courts many times. Alex is right on this. Too bad conservative and well-funded corporate anti-environmental lawyers like the Pacific Legal Foundation continue to mislead property owners into believing that they can beat the system on this publicly-approved mandate.
Seldom Seen Slim February 20, 2013 at 08:40 PM
The intensity of use is no different and no greater for this building than as it was in 1870 to 1970. An owner should not have to give up developement of a neighboring parcel, their privacy, and delay of developement for paint and new furnishings to an exisitng building. The proposed use has not changed significantly from what the building was originally purposed for. Thus, it is a taking as defined in Nolan vs CC.


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