Hundreds of property owners in California’s coastal zone have joined with business groups and trade associations to defeat a bill that would allow the state’s Coastal Commission to impose and collect fines without the court approval now required.

Next week’s Los Angeles Business Journal reports that opponents believe that AB 976, authored by Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, would strip coastal property owners of court protection against commission abuse, leaving them with little recourse against multimillion-dollar penalties.

“If I hadn’t had the protection of judicial review, I would have been forced to pay that $28 million or forfeit my business,” said Brian Boudreau, the owner of a horse ranch north of Malibu, who was able to get a commission fine reversed on appeal. “If this thing passes, what’s to stop the commission from effectively putting me or people like me out of business?”

AB 976 would allow the Coastal Commission to levy fines without court approval, at least through 2016. Atkins and other supporters say the bill is needed because it takes years for the courts to approve or reject the commission’s fines. They point to a backlog of more than 1,800 cases involving proposed fines awaiting adjudication.

Check out the full story in Monday’s Business Journal.