Two former California lawmakers who helped establish Point Reyes National Seashore have filed a federal court brief supporting a commercial oyster farm's right to continue harvesting shellfish in the park's protected waters.

William Bagley, a former Marin County assemblyman, and Pete McCloskey, a former Bay Area congressman, filed a 26-page brief this week supporting Drakes Bay Oyster Company's bid for a rehearing by the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which rejected the company's case in September.

Their "friend of the court" brief challenged the legality of former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's decision nearly a year ago not to renew oyster farmer Kevin Lunny's permit to raise oysters in Drakes Estero, a 2,500-acre Pacific Ocean estuary.

The brief, backed by 11 other parties including the Sonoma County Farm Bureau, also asserted that even without a federal permit for use of the estero shoreline, Lunny could continue oyster cultivation under a state lease of the estero "water bottoms."

Lunny, who plants and harvests $1.5 million worth of oysters a year from the estero, said he agreed with the brief's "legal analysis" but hasn't evaluated the prospect of working without a land base.

"We're still focused on getting the onshore permit," he said. "If it gets denied, we have to look at those other options."

Lunny's own lawyers last week asked the 9th Circuit to reconsider the 2-1 ruling that supported a government shutdown order based on Salazar's action last November.

The appeals court could take a few months to decide whether to submit Lunny's case to an 11-judge panel.

Bagley and McCloskey weighed in on the oyster company controversy in a 2011 letter to Salazar asserting that the Point Reyes seashore, created in 1962, was intended "to retain an oyster farm and California's only oyster cannery in the Drakes Estero."

Bagley authored the 1965 state bill that transferred the Point Reyes tidelands to the National Park Service, and McCloskey secured $35 million from the Nixon administration for the 1972 purchase of the ranch lands surrounding the estero.

Their letter noted that former Rep. John Burton and former Sen. John Tunney, testifying on a 1976 wilderness designation bill for Drakes Estero, said the oyster farm was to continue as a "non-conforming use."

McCloskey, who lives on a ranch in Rumsey, Yolo County, blamed park service bureaucrats for the change in direction regarding the estero.

"I'm pissed off," he said in a telephone interview. "I'm 86 years old and I wish I was young enough to get back into this fight."

McCloskey, a co-founder of the first Earth Day, received the Sierra Club's first "environmental hero" award in 2010.

The brief, written by San Francisco attorney Judith Teichman, asserted that Salazar's decision was "ultra vires," meaning beyond the power, by interfering with the state's leases and Lunny's rights under the leases.

A previous "friend of the court" brief, submitted in April by four environmental groups, rejected the argument that California could continue to lease the estero water bottoms for aquaculture without a federal permit for use of the shoreline property.

[END_CREDIT_0]You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com.

California pot: Smoke it (or eat it) if you can get it

OAKLAND — It wasn’t exactly reefer madness Monday as California launched the first legal sales of recreational marijuana, but those who could find the drug celebrated the historic day, lining up early for ribbon cuttings, freebies and offerings ranging from cookies to gummy bears to weed with names like heaven mountain.

Jeff Deakin, 66, his wife Mary and their dog waited in the cold all night to be first in a line of 100 people when Harborside dispensary, a longtime medical pot shop in Oakland, opened at 6 a.m. and offered early customers joints for a penny and free T-shirts that read “Flower to the People — Cannabis for All.”

“It’s been so long since others and myself could walk into a place where you could feel safe and secure and be able to get something that was good without having to go to the back alley,” Deakin said. “This is kind of a big deal for everybody.”

Harborside founder Steve DeAngelo used a giant pair of scissors to cut a green ribbon, declaring, “With these scissors I dub thee free,” before ringing up the first customer at a cash register.

Sales were brisk in the shops lucky to score one of the roughly 100 state licenses issued so far, but customers in some of the state’s largest cities were out of luck. Los Angeles and San Francisco hadn’t authorized shops in time to get state licenses and other cities, such as Riverside and Fresno, blocked sales altogether.

Licensed shops are concentrated in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego, around Palm Springs, San Jose and Santa Cruz, where the KindPeoples shop tacked up a banner Monday declaring, “Prohibition is Over!”

The state banned what it called “loco-weed” in 1913, though it has eased criminal penalties for use of the drug since the 1970s and was the first state to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes in 1996.

California voters in 2016 made it legal for adults 21 and older to grow, possess and use limited quantities of marijuana, but it wasn’t legal to sell it for recreational purposes until Monday.

The nation’s most populous state now joins a growing list of states, and the nation’s capital, where so-called recreational marijuana is permitted even though the federal government continues to classify pot as a controlled substance, like heroin and LSD.

The signs that California was tripping toward legal pot sales were evident well before the stroke of midnight. California highways flashed signs before New Year’s Eve that said “Drive high, Get a DUI,” reflecting law enforcement concerns about stoned drivers. Weedmaps, the phone app that allows customers to rate shops, delivery services and shows their locations, ran a full-page ad Sunday in the Los Angeles Times that said, “Smile California. It’s Legal.”

Travis Lund, 34, said he’d been looking forward while working the graveyard shift to buy weed legally for the first time since he began smoking pot as a teen.

“I’m just stoked that it’s finally legal,” he said after purchasing an eighth of an ounce of “Mount Zion” and another type of loose leaf marijuana at Northstar Holistic Collective in Sacramento, where the fragrance of pot was strong. “I’m going to go home and get high — and enjoy it.”

—Associated Press

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