Did you know that Carbon Beach in Malibu is not a "private beach."
In fact, there's almost no such thing as private beach in California, with a few exceptions, including the coastline in front of Vandenberg Airforce Base in Lompoc. But that hasn't stopped wealthy Malibu residents, including David Geffen, from attempting to thwart access to our shared, public coastline:
The California Coastal Commission recently created a third public access pathway to Carbon Beach via settlement of a long-standing lawsuit, the body announced today.
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The commission settled a 10-year dispute with resident Lisette Ackerberg over "unpermitted development blocking two public access easements on her property," according to a statement from the body:
The public easement had been blocked by, among other things, a 9-foot-high wall, large boulders, and a fence.
(Because walls, boulders and fences always stop Mexicans from intruding in your area. Ay. Jus' kideen').
Why is denying access to public beach such a burn? Read this 2003 opinion piece by Jennifer Price. Here's a taste:
California has long recognized the importance of the beach as an essential public space. By law, private development in most cases cannot interfere with public use. The Coastal Act, following the state Constitution, requires all beachfront communities to maximize public access.
So when Malibu homeowners post "private beach" signs along 20 miles of the coast -- fully a quarter of the beachfront in L.A. County -- it strikes a nerve. When they refuse to provide access ways, and hire guards to enforce questionable signs, and use boulders to block public parking, and sue right and left to gut the state access laws -- which the state is now enforcing with more success and commitment -- and, in some cases, build out over the high tide line, the resulting flood of objections does not signal latent aggression toward rich people.
Ackerberg, meanwhile, will have to create a paved public pathway, with wheelchair access, and pay $1.1 million four our trouble, says the commission.
Some of the cash will go to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority for maintenance of the path. Some of it will go to pay the people's legal fees. Yay.
The "accessway" is scheduled to be completed in December, 2014.
The commission says Ackerberg failed to abide by early '80s building permits allowing for a house, pool, tennis court and seawall on her property; the builder promised two easements for public access as part of that deal, the commission said.
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Mary Shallenberger, chair of the commission:
It's unfortunate that so much time, and so many resources had to be wasted over the last decade trying to get the public their rightful access to the beach. But this is an outcome we can all feel proud of, and we are grateful to Mrs. Ackerberg for stepping forward and doing the right thing for the people of California.
Interestingly, Ackerberg says the dispute was over a disagreement about "meaning of the terms of the permits governing my property." She claims to be "a strong supporter of environmental causes" and notes that her late husband, Norman, was a co-founder of the Santa Monica Baykeeper organization.