Today was a day devoted to the question of access and the lack of access.
We are in Malibu where many believe that the public beach ? the beach below the mean-high-tide line ? is really a private beach, available to only those who can afford to buy and build next to it. Again and again as the day went by, this common theme kept reappearing.
We began at Dan Blocker State Beach with Don Nierlich (Coastwalk board member and L.A. County co-coordinator) at the lead. Almost immediately we found ourselves on a thin strip of sand between the water and the pilings and decks of beach houses. That was when the going was good. Things would get worse in places where the beach had been destroyed by rip rap. Here it was either go around and get wet, or clamber up and over. Above Malibu Point, at the west end of Malibu Lagoon State Beach, a chain link fence runs out across the public beach. Once festooned with ?No Trespassing? signs, it now bears a sign proclaiming "Private Property to the mean high tide line." (Incremental progress.) It was interesting to note that the only time the word ?please? occurred on any beach sign was to ask for the removal of dog feces.
Soon after, appropriately at the entrance of the Zonker Harris public accessway, we met Steve Hoye, Executive Director of Access For All, an organization whose goal is to open existing accessways and to make sure that future developments insure public access to the public beach. Steve led us for the next several miles, passing along Carbon Beach and La Costa Beach, where public access is a thorny problem indeed. Here we viewed accessways (or more properly the land upon which an accessway is to be built), the result of contractual agreements between landowners and the State, which remain in private possession and which are tied up in litigation. The result is that to get onto your public beach at La Costa you must scramble over a wet and slippery rocky point from Carbon Beach which you accessed way back at its westerly end.
We regained the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) at the point between La Costa and Las Flores Beach (don?t ask me how) and after lunch had the pleasant task of walking three miles or so along the PCH to Las Tunas County Beach. Incessant traffic bombarded us from the left, and on the right was a constant wall of garages and fences; the ocean might as well have been a thousand miles away! (Jon Breyfogle; photos by Linda Hanes and Don Nierlich)
Left: At the entry to the Malibu Movie Colony Beach, Ginny and Steve read warnings about eating mussels during the summer months ? to the left is a new Private Property sign, incrementally better than the former "No Tresspassing" signs. Right: Steve Hoye (center) leads hikers along Carbon Beach.