Opal Cliffs Private Access Substantial Issue

From ActCoastal

Month March
Year 2018
Summary The County-approved project that is the subject of this appeal is the result of a long and protracted case first initiated by Commission enforcement staff in 2006. While the permitting history between the Coastal Commission and the Opal Cliffs Recreation District is undeniably complicated, the fundamental question of whether or not a collective of property owners have the right to charge for access to a public beach is worth examining. The current operation run by OCRD requires those wishing to visit the beach to purchase a $100 gate key for yearly access or pay a $5 fee for a daily pass. The only access to the beach in question is blocked by a 9-foot fence, gate and “gate ambassador” responsible for enforcing the program’s terms. This construct raises significant and fundamental consistency issues with the Coastal Act and California’s coastal management program; in particular, the directive to maximize access for the broadest of the State’s economically and culturally diverse population to our public beach commons.

The Commission heard only the substantial issue portion of the appeal and the de novo hearing was postponed to a future date at the request of the applicant. Commissioners opted to hear the substantial issue presentation and unanimously found substantial issue.

Outcome Green Dot.png
Outcome Description Commissioner Erik Howell made a motion to find substantial issue and Commissioner Mary Luevano seconded the motion. Commissioner Mark Vargas emphasized the need for the Commission to be consistent, noting the Commission has insisted on removal of gates “for less.”

Commissioners unanimously found substantial issue.

Why You Should Care The County-approved project appears to conflict with fundamental Coastal Act and LCP public access and recreation requirements, including those that require that public recreational access opportunities be maximized.

This fee-based beach access prohibition will fall disproportionately on the lower income and more disadvantaged among the beach-going public and on those who do not live near the Opal Cliffs area, and disproportionately benefits those who live in the immediate area and are more likely to be able to make more frequent use of the Park and beach.

Image Privates.png
Decision Type Substantial Issue
Staff Recommendation Substantial Issue
Staff Report
Lobbyist/Agent Mark Massara
Opposition to Project Surfrider Foundation
Coastal Act Policies Chapter 3

Voting Detail for Opal Cliffs Private Access Substantial Issue

Individual vote detail for Issue: Opal Cliffs Private Access Substantial Issue
Roberto UrangaGood Vote
Carole GroomGood Vote
Aaron PeskinGood Vote
Ryan SundbergGood Vote
Donne BrownseyAbsent for Vote
Mark VargasGood Vote
Effie Turnbull-SandersGood Vote
Erik HowellGood Vote
Steve PadillaGood Vote by Alternate
Dayna BochcoAbsent for Vote
Sara AminzadehGood Vote
Mary LuevanoGood Vote

Meeting Page

View Meeting Page for the meeting where this issue was discussed/voted on.