Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Appeals Court Rejects Challenge to Nonprofit-Government Partnership

The California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District affirmed the dismissal of a challenge to a partnership between the nonprofit Resources Legacy Fund Foundation and two state government agencies, the California Resources Agency and the California Department of Fish and Game.  At issue in Coastside Fishing Club v. California Resources Agency was a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Foundation the agencies under which the Foundation agreed to provide funding so that the agencies could fulfill their planning responsibilities under California's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA).  The MLPA requires the Department of Fish and Wildlife to prepare a draft master plan relating to California's marine protected areas for consideration by the independent Fish and Game Commission.  The California legislature neglected, however, to provide funding for this work.

The Coastside Fishing Club, a nonprofit organization representing recreational fishermen, and a member of the Club challenged the MOU on two grounds.  First, that the funds provided by the Foundation were a gift, which the agencies could not accept without approval by California's Director of Finance, which had not bee obtained.  Second, that the agencies lacked the authority under the MLPA and under the California Constitution to enter into the MOU.  The trial court rejected both claims, and the appellate court affirmed. 

(Full Disclosure:  The firm with which I am Of Counsel has represented an affiliate of the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation.)



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