SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A bill authored by San Diego Assemblymember Toni Atkins to protect public lands from illegal use and save the state thousands of dollars in enforcement and legal costs was sent to the Governor today by the state legislature.
AB 2082 enables the State Lands Commission to levy fines against squatters if they do not fix a violation after receiving official notification and a 30-day grace period. Currently, the state must pursue expensive and time consuming court litigation to address unauthorized uses of these state lands.
“Public lands are important natural resources that must be protected from those who would illegally use them for their own private purposes,” Atkins said. “My bill increases those protections while also reducing the cost to taxpayers. I am optimistic that the Governor will agree and sign AB 2082 into law.”
AB 2082 was inspired by increasing misuses of our public lands that require expensive legal processes to remedy. Examples include a property owner who placed no trespassing signs, fencing, and barbed wire along state land to block public access to a river, costing taxpayers $7,480 for legal services. In another case, a marine services business had not paid rent to the state since 1989, while at the same time it was collecting rent from a restaurant sublessee and allowing the facility to fall into disrepair. Legal services to pursue this case cost taxpayers at least $37,000.
The state lands covered by AB 2082 include school lands, tidal and submerged land owned by the state, and the beds of navigable bodies of water. Gov. Jerry Brown has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto the bill.