Thursday, June 09, 2005

Snot-nosed Celebrities and Malibu-ites

I spent my childhood in Hawaii, where there are absolutely no private beaches. Not only are there no private beaches, but property owners have to provide access to beaches, too. So, if someone buys a huge swath of coastal land, which contains a beach enclove, with no access other than through their property, they have to allow people to trample over their land to get to the beach. Most mainlanders who come over to the islands are happy to go along with those laws which are essentially in the spirit of Aloha. However, occasionally, there are some selfish dingbats who don't want to comply...and then things get interesting.

Life on an island, is like life in a small town. You can't afford to be rude to your neighbors, because it will come back and bite you in the butt.

Peter Guber, is embroiled in a legal battle with the country of Kauai over a road that runs through his property, which he claims is private, and the country claims is public. The thing is, it doesn't matter who wins, everyone on the island dislikes Guber now, which is a huge problem if you have 171-arce estate that needs to be run. Many people refuse to work for him. There is a story that I heard through the coconut wireless (grapevine in the mainland) that he wanted to have a stone wall built, and he got a proposal from a company that builds walls. He said their estimate was too high, and would only pay half that. So they only built half a wall for him, and then left it...and no other wall building company on the island was about to go finish that wall for him, no matter how much he was offering to pay then. That pretty much cured him from thinking he could take advantage of the simple island folk. On Kauai, you don't need unions. There are ways they deal with things...

Guber is now trying to sell his estate. Apparently Kauai isn't the nice friendly island he thought it was.

In California, the rules for beach access are tighter than in Hawaii. In Hawaii private property begins once the sand ends, or grass begins. So beach goers are allowed to sit on the beaches, as that is public property. In California, private property begins with dry sand. Basically, you are allowed to walk and sit on the wet sand, but not on the dry. Many beach goers protest the laws, and there are yearly battles over the beaches. It's an interesting saga, and I was surprised to see the newest chapter: homeowners have called in bulldozers, to push the sand up to create a sandbar, effectively reducing the size of even the tiny wet sand zone where the public is allowed to frolic:

The turf battles over Malibu's oceanfront tend to be as predictable as the spring tides as property owners and beachgoers contest for control of the sand.

This year, the tussle over what is public and what is private has taken a surprising turn with property owners bringing in heavy equipment to scoop up tons of public beach and pile it onto their property.


Until now, the dispute has been largely over homeowners' rights to put up private-property signs in the sand and employ security guards on all-terrain vehicles to shoo visitors off dry sand.

On Wednesday, Coastal Commission officials ordered the homeowners association to immediately halt the use of heavy equipment that has been pushing wet sand from the state-owned intertidal zone up the beach toward the houses since June 1 without a state permit.

The commission's staff, in a nine-page letter, explained that the un-permitted grading has harmed wildlife, including grunion, small fish that spawn on Southland beaches this time of year. The removal of sand also has lowered the profile of the public beach so that "public access is cut off by wave run-up and standing water," the commission's letter said.

Marshall Grossman, a Broad Beach homeowner and lawyer, said the intent was not to block public access, but simply to restore the sandy dunes in front of the homes that eroded during last winter's storms.

"When that happens, homeowners bring their own sand back to the dunes or bring in replacement sand from the outside in order to restore the dune areas," Grossman said. "It doesn't interfere with public access at all because the dunes are simply restored to what they were."


The regrading, Haage said, has tossed Broad Beach into legal murky waters. Much of what was considered public beach is now underwater at high tide or subject to a constant run-up of waves that would make sunbathing and picnicking impossible.

A lot of celebrities have houses there, and just want to protect their privacy, which I can understand. But I would say that perhaps they shouldn't be buying a house in such a high-profile, easy to reach area. And if they insist on doing so, then they have to accept that the rules are for everyone.


Blogger Household6 said...

What do you expect from a place where Barbie lives? Yes Malibu Barbie, the doll. Seriously, I love where I grew up but I often think that SoCal should become its own state, or how about just the LA basin?

AKA Miss Stella

12:39 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I have never been to California or Hawaii.

Sounds like an interesting saga.

Dang girl, I think you have been everywhere.

8:26 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

Interesting read, your site. I haven't sat this long on a blog in awhile. Thanks also for posting on my site. As someone who has beachfront property in California (albeit my beach is the Mojave Desert and it's all dry), those landowners need a good tidal wave to carry away their homes to make way for beautiful, spotless beach once again.

1:11 AM  
Blogger Teresa said...

How much you wanna bet those morons digging up the beach are the first ones on the protest line to save the spotted mosquito... or some such nonsense!

As you say, if you're so paranoid about your safety, you need to move somewhere that doesn't allow public access... not just change the rules for yourself. Then again - they're all special because they have "money"... yeah right.

It will come back to bite them - unfortunately we may not get front seat at the show. Bet they forgot all about Karma when they started digging... I'm sure she hasn't forgotten about them. I just hang onto that thought.

4:52 PM  
Blogger katiedid said...

Your post makes me quite grateful that Oregon is generally serious about maintaining all beaches as public, and there is always a hue and outcry when some private property holder tries to violate the spirit of the law. There's something that's just wonderful about being able to walk endlessly down the beach without a fence or obstacle to impede your trek, isn't there?

7:49 PM  
Blogger Bluesman said...

The New York Times has recently published an articel called "Forcing Malibu's Rich To Share the Beach". It deals with David Geffen, co-founder of Dreamworks, who had to open a path to the public (!) beach running through his property. Sometimes underdogs may win.

6:17 PM  

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