It's no secret that the wealthy enclave of Coronado is flouting State housing laws. What's remarkable is that it is hoping the Coastal Commission will come to its rescue.

Communities across the State are reeling from massive new housing requirements issued by Governor Newsom's administration. In many cases, the amount of new housing required by the State in small communities has exploded by five- or ten-fold. But most cities have concluded that the cost of resisting is simply too great: without a legally sufficient "housing element," a city can lose control of development within its borders, and developers can invoke a statutory provision called the "builder's remedy" to force a city to approve their housing projects.

The leaders of Coronado do not appear to fear these consequences. This is, in large part, due to Coronado's fortuitous location on the California Coast. Since Coronado is in California's coastal zone, any proposed development will presumably require approval from the Coastal Commission, the State agency charged with implementing the California Coastal Act. Coronado expects the Commission to apply the Coastal Act to prevent out-of-control development from occurring on the island.

It's a creative and risky bet. No one is sure what the Coastal Commission will do if faced with a housing project submitted using the builder's remedy. But one thing is certain: cities up and down the California coast will be watching carefully to see what happens.