Malibu residents have a rep for getting pretty fancy with their tricks to keep people off their (mostly public) beaches, even going so far as putting up fake "no parking" signs or erecting phony driveways. But this latest beach access battle concerns the operators of Paradise Cove, who surfers say are making them fork over $20 a head to surf in waters that, by the terms of the Cove operator's lease, are supposed to be kept free and open to all, reports the LA Times.
The problem began with complaints to the California Coastal Commission from members of the Black Surfers Collective, who reported that they were barred from even carrying their surfboards over the sand by parking lot attendants at Paradise Cove. Other surfers not affiliated with the Black Surfers Collective say they were charged $20 just to walk with their boards across the sand, and when they refused to pay up, the cops were called; the LA County sheriff's deputy who answered the call sided with the parking attendants enforcing the fee, and told the surfers that they'd be tresspassing if they didn't pay. Also pissing off surfers are the parking lot fees, which they say can cost up to $50, depending on the season.
Unfortunately, the parking options around there are limited and access to the cove from other parts of Malibu aren't feasible, so the answer isn't as simple as "park somewhere else." The road leading down to the beach has signs advertising a $40 parking fee, presumably payable to the parking lot attendants, and there are "no parking" signs—put up by the city of Malibu and Caltrans earlier this year—for 100 yards on either side of Paradise Cove Road. (According to a spokesman for Malibu, the Coastal Commission is appealing those signs.)
The surfers are understandably ruffled, as all of these fees are totally contrary to the lease that Paradise Cove operators signed, as well as the rule of thumb that all California beaches are at least partly public—the wet sand and the waves are supposed to be open to all. "We're very troubled, and we're looking into it," said a rep for the CCC. In the meantime, the CCC has issued a warning letter to Kisell Company, which runs Paradise Cove under the name Paradise Cove Land Company. In their letter, the CCC plainly states that charging people to access the Paradise Cove beach or pier is a violation of the company's lease with the California State Lands Commission. The lease actually lays out that the company has to allow public access " to and through the leased area for the general public, including non-paying visitors."
· Paradise Cove gets Coastal Commission warning over beach access [LAT]
· Beach Access Bingo archives [Curbed LA]