Coastal Property Rights/Land Use

Jon Corn and his staff provide a broad spectrum of legal services in all aspects of land use law, development rights, entitlements, permits, and litigation. The firm has extensive experience serving developers and property owners throughout California. Our practice areas include all Coastal Commission and LCP matters, disputes with the Port of San Diego, oceanfront development and seawalls, boundary disputes (including water boundaries), easements, oceanfront property rights, the California Coastal Act and local coastal programs, ESHA and wetland regulations, zoning and entitlements, the Density Bonus Law, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Permit Streamlining Act, vacation rentals, acquisition due diligence, local ordinance and Coastal Act compliance, and code violations.

Jon Corn is an astute attorney and businessman. Combining these talents, he determines a best course of action taking legal, legislative, political and monetary issues into account. Jon is a very likeable professional who you want on your team. I recommend him highly to anyone who needs a trial lawyer, or property advice, especially if yours is along the coast.

David Winkler, CEO, Del Mar Partnership and oceanfront property owner.

No one knows and understands the legal issues of oceanfront ownership better than Jon. And, if you’re a developer, you’ll be glad to know that Jon has tremendous expertise in the Density Bonus Law, and he knows how to work with the cities and the Coastal Commission to get your project approved.

Doug Harwood, President, The Harwood Group.

As a coastal engineer who has been working along the San Diego coastline for more than 40 years, I can highly recommend Jon Corn without hesitation. Few lawyers I’ve met have his grasp of the relevant engineering issues, and he most of all he knows how to work with people and get the job done.

Walt Crampton, PE, GE, Founding Principal Engineer, Terra Costa Consulting Group.

Coastal Commission Matters

The Jon Corn Law Firm helps property owners deal with the Coastal Commission, the most powerful state agency in California, and possibly the United States. As the Coastal Commission’s powers and reach to continue to creep forward, Jon Corn and his team help property owners obtain coastal development permits without unreasonable “special conditions,” defend Coastal Act appeals, fight Coastal Act violation cases, and take the Coastal Commission in court when necessary.

Jon represented our family with zeal and intensity in our decades long battle with the California Coastal Commission. He beat the Coastal Commission in court and convinced the judge to award us all attorneys’ fees and costs. After the Coastal Commission appealed, Jon got PLF to join the fight, and it continues now at the California Supreme Court.

Jennifer Lynch, Attorney and Owner of 1500 Neptune Avenue.

The Coastal Commission appealed the City’s approval of my beach stairs. Against what seemed like steep odds, Jon overcame a strongly negative staff report and convinced the Commission to grant a permit for beach stairs.

Matthew Gordon, Neptune Avenue, Encinitas

Jon knows coastal issues better than any other lawyer in town.

Tom Ryan, President, Condominium Owners of South Sierra Avenue (COOSSA)


JCL’s attorneys are highly experienced trial attorneys who handle high-stakes matters before state and federal trial courts, courts of appeal, and arbitration panels. They have successfully litigated many cases before judges and juries, and appellate panels in complex land use matters, writ petitions against the Coastal Commission, Port of San Diego, and other governmental agencies, business disputes, construction cases, density bonus matters, CEQA claims, lemon law, insurance matters, and personal injury/mass tort cases. JCL attorneys understand that litigation is an expensive, time consuming and aggravating remedy of last resort. They will do everything they can to avoid going to court, but when there is no other choice you can count on them to be aggressive, persuasive, and thorough.

Jon Corn efficiently handled several complex cases for us and achieved excellent results.

Patrick and Seema Burke, La Costa Avenue, Encinitas CA.

Jon Corn is a fantastic litigator and really knows how to win over juries. I highly recommend him.

Mat Perlot, Founder and Former CEO of Safari Motor Coaches and Beaver Motor Coaches.

Jon is a coastal property rights champion. He has worked tirelessly for the oceanfront owners in Solana Beach and Encinitas for almost 20 years.

Chris Hamilton, Chairman, Beach & Bluff Conservancy.

Illustrative Cases Taken to Verdict (Partial List)

Lynch v. Coastal Commission

Mr. Corn represented the Lynch and Frick families and obtained a trial court judgment against the Coastal Commission. The trial court ruled that special conditions imposed by the Coastal Commission, putting an expiration date on a seawall permit and prohibiting the families from reconstructing their permitted beach stairs, were takings that violated the California Constitution. The Court ordered the Commission to delete the illegal conditions from its permit and to reimburse the Lynch and Frick families for the full amount of their attorney’s fees and costs. The Coastal Commission appealed and this case is now pending before the California Supreme Court.

National Distributor v. Major Vehicle Manufacturer

Mr. Corn and Mr. Axelson represented Mexico’s exclusive distributor of major brand semi-trailers in a multi-million dollar breach of contract arbitration matter. After lengthy proceedings, the 3-judge arbitration panel found in favor of the distributor, and issued a multi-million dollar arbitration award in favor of Jon’s client. The case was subsequently settled for an amount in excess of the award, plus interest.

CalBeach Advocates v. City of Solana Beach

Mr. Corn represented the real parties in interest in a CEQA challenge to a seawall permit. Mr. Corn obtained a victory in the trial court, which was then appealed. The court of appeals upheld the trial court decision in a published appellate decision known as CalBeach Advocates v. City of Solana Beach (2002) 103 Cal.App.4 th 529. This case holds that emergency seawall permits are categorically exempt from CEQA review and do not require an EIR or any other form of environmental review.

Oceanfront Property Purchaser v. Real Estate Broker

Mr. Corn represented the buyers of an expensive Neptune Avenue oceanfront home. He obtained a large money judgment against the well-known real estate broker who lied to the buyers regarding material facts concerning the home. After a 3-week trial, the jury found the broker liable for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. Prior to trial, the sellers also paid a substantial, six-figure settlement to the buyers, on top of a $20,000 fine for filing a SLAPP cross complaint.

Beach & Bluff Conservancy v. City of Solana Beach (and Coastal Commission and Surfrider Foundation as Intervenors)

With Larry Salzman of the Pacific Legal Foundation as co-counsel, Mr. Corn and PLF scored a victory in their challenge to restrictive coastal development policies enacted by the City of Solana Beach at the Coastal Commission's behest and with Surfrider’s support. In a partial but important decision, the San Diego Superior Court overturned two policies: one forbidding any permits to build protective devices for existing "accessory" structures, and another forbidding any permits to rebuild or repair private beach stairs if the work would amount to the cumulative replacement of more than 50 percent of the existing stairwell. The court ruled that both policies conflicted with the California Coastal Act itself, which generally guarantees the right of coastal property owners to repair and protect existing development. Mr. Corn also represented 7 Solana Beach condominium HOAs in a companion case that achieved identical results.

McKellar Development v. Nationally Known Insurance Company

Mr. Corn represented McKellar Development of La Jolla and obtained a unanimous jury verdict against a nationally known insurance company for bad faith denial of insurance benefits. The case evolved out of a series of construction defect cases concerning the Triple Crown condominium complex in Solana Beach. After a month-long jury trial, the jury returned a substantial verdict that was subsequently settled for the full amount of the judgment, plus interest. Mr. Corn won jury verdicts against 2 other subcontractors in separate cases related to the Triple Crown complex.

Merlin v. Safari Motor Homes and American Isuzu Motors

Mr. Corn successfully defended a lemon law case involving an expensive motorhome. Thanks to a "no stone left unturned" investigation, Mr. Corn proved that the owner used the motorhome for business purposes, disqualifying him from lemon law protection. The business use was related to the adult entertainment industry, and the unsavory facts were revealed to the jury in a "Perry Mason" moment at trial.

Grewal v. Safari Motor Homes

Mr. Corn successfully defended a lemon law case involving another expensive motorhome. Despite that the owners were lawyers who expertly engineered their case from the beginning of their ownership, Mr. Corn proved to the jury that the case was a scam and the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict.

Purchase Due Diligence and Sale Disclosures

Purchasing an oceanfront or bay front property requires a thorough understanding of a complex array of laws, ambulatory boundary issues, and permitting history. In most cases, the information needed to make an informed purchase decision is well beyond the grasp of the typical purchaser (not to mention most real estate agents and lawyers). As an oceanfront owner and licensed real estate broker himself, no one knows the complex set of rules and regulations better than Jon Corn and JCL’s other legal professionals. When considering a multi-million dollar oceanfront property, you cannot be too careful. If you are selling, JCL’s attorneys can also help you craft the extremely thorough and far-reaching disclosures required by law so you can avoid legal problems down the road.

Do not buy anything on the oceanfront without talking to Jon Corn first.

Dave Ericson, Managing Partner, Merced Funds.

If you’re interested in making an informed, head’s up decision, hire Jon Corn to run your due diligence.

John B., Neptune Avenue Owner.

Development, Permits, and Alleged Code Violations

In California, especially in the Coastal Zone, obtaining approvals and permits from local governments and the Coastal Commission can be an incredibly daunting and frustrating experience. JCL’s legal professionals are here to help. Jon Corn is also a real estate developer who has processed numerous subdivision tentative maps, some under the Density Bonus Law, and he has obtained approvals for and built commercial and residential structures. Arie Spangler, who is the daughter of the former and long-time Encinitas City Planner Bill Weedman, grew up discussing development challenges around her Encinitas dinner table. Erin McKinley, who is the daughter of noted architect Kirk McKinley, and whose mother was the Chula Vista City Planner, is a creative problem solver who really knows the development business. She is a developer in her own right with a perceptive eye for solving problems and value engineering.

When the Coastal Commission police knock on your door do 2 things: do not invite them in and call Jon Corn.

Joe Valenti, General Manager, North Coast Village HOA.

Jon has great relationships and has figured out how to simultaneously 'fight City Hall' and 'work with City Hall' with amazing aplomb.

Matt Miller, Miller Commercial Properties.

Living on the oceanfront is grand, but living under such a complex set of regulations and rules is not. Thank you Jon Corn for your help.

John D., Neptune Avenue.

When the Coastal Commission came after us for a fine in excess of $1,000,000, we hired Jon and he negotiated a fair, common sense resolution.

Steve and Linda Beim, Carlsbad, CA.

Easements and Boundary Disputes

JCL attorneys are experts in easements and property boundaries (including water boundaries), and Irrevocable Offers to Dedicate (IODs). JCL attorneys offer counsel and litigation services for clients in the analysis and preparation of easements, and in determining boundaries between adjacent private property owners and between private property owners and the government.

On Jon's first visit to our home, he visualized the solution that we needed to solve our problems with our neighbors, and he made it happen. It took 2 lawsuits, but we got a great result.

JSeema Burke, Encinitas, CA.

Serious Personal Injury and Mass Torts

JCL’s attorneys accept serious personal injury and mass tort cases. JCL is currently involved in the Taxotere multi-district litigation involving a defective breast cancer drug that causes permanent hair loss. The drug maker knew about the risk but chose not to disclose it.

Jon has the drive, compassion and integrity required to bring justice for victims of real corporate malfeasance.

Dean Goetz, Goetz Law Firm and Oceanfront Property Owner.