Unopened Access Ways Are Point of Interest During Coastal Commission Visit
BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN
In addition to a quick Malibu Lagoon visit and a picnic lunch at the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy's Ramirez Canyon Park, California Coastal Commissioners participating in a Malibu bus trip had an opportunity to view a number of current and future Malibu beach easements.
According to a report published in December of 2011, 67 vertical access ways acquired through Commission permit actions have been opened in the six coastal California counties-60 percent of the 111 access ways acquired to date.
"In Los Angeles County, a total of 34 vertical access ways have been recorded pursuant to Coastal Commission actions since 1973. Of those 34 access ways, 13 (or 38 percent) have been constructed and opened for public use; and 21 (or 62 percent) remain yet to be opened." All 21 of unopened Los Angeles County access ways are located within the City of Malibu, according to the report.
Commissioners caught a glimpse from their bus of many of the eight open and 21 future access way sites- including a Carbon Beach easement that has been held up by litigation for more than a decade, and blocked by a generator and a concrete wall, and Zonker-Harris, and Geffen access ways in eastern Malibu.
The commissioners had an opportunity to exit the bus and view the open Broad Beach lateral easement, while hearing first hand from CCC Ventura Office representative Steve Hudson about the issues involved in clearing, opening and maintaining public easements.
Critics have questioned why Los Angeles County and the State Parks Department has failed to open public access ways that, in some cases, have been deeded for decades.
Malibu City Councilmember Jefferson Wagner recently suggested that the state consider transferring Dan Blocker State Beach to the City of Malibu. While the Corral Beach portion of the park has been easily accessible and largely unchanged for the past 50 years, a smaller section, deeded to the public in the 1970s, but separated from the main beach by private property, remains fenced off and inaccessible, except at low tide.
Access advocates say that even the open access ways can be difficult to locate and confusing for visitors. Even longtime residents are often unaware of public easements.
"There's this view that Malibu residents hog the beach," a Malibu beachgoer at Escondido Beach told the Malibu Surfside News. "Most of us don't live at the beach, we depend on public easements, too. I always took our kids to Zuma. I had no idea that this access was here. It's a great beach, it's great for swimming, really calm water, beautiful, and I never knew about it. How many other people have driven past 100 times and never seen the access sign or bothered to stop?"