Yes, I get the humor. But actually, the judge did touch on how that does indeed sound odd, but that it is specifically mentioned in the relevant act and is clearly defined. In the act the word development specifically refers to "change in the intensity of use of water, or of access thereto." I personally think that legal wording is not the substance of the problem here, but rather the important thing is that the (new) land owner is not well meaning. He knew the situation when he purchased the land and seemingly hoped to win a fight with money.Only in California could closing a gate be called 'development'.