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Opinion

Readers React: The Hollister Ranch settlement is a giveaway to wealthy landowners who want to block beach access

GAVIOTA, CA - JULY 29, 2016 - Signs warn of possible trespassing on Hollister Ranch Road at the entr
Signs warn of possible trespassing on Hollister Ranch Road.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: In America, there is a belief that the rich can have anything they want. Unfortunately for Californians, the members of our Coastal Commission not only believe this, they actively facilitate it. (“Soon you can visit this pristine California beach — if you’re a nearby landowner, on a guided tour or willing to paddle 2 miles,” May 22)

The state Constitution is clear: California’s beaches are public and open to everyone. Even with beach access, Hollister Ranch in Santa Barbara County is isolated and would never draw crowds like Malibu, where a détente between land owners and the public clearly works.

We need Coastal Commissioners who believe protecting access is a religious calling, not an opportunity to mingle with the rich and famous. Until they are willing to do their job, the public will have to. Perhaps we should start with a boycott of products made by Patagonia, whose founder owns land on Hollister Ranch, and any films by James Cameron, who also has property there.

David Higgins, Los Angeles

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To the editor: The Hollister Ranch settlement, calling for paddle-in only or chaperoned access to a public beach, should not be viewed by the city of Malibu as any kind of precedent.

The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy is a defendant in two city of Malibu lawsuits seeking to deny public access to public land. Already, I’m hearing that the Hollister settlement can be a basis for settling the Malibu lawsuits.

Hollister Ranch is remote and unique; the agencies involved had their own reasons for settlement. But with respect to beach access and parkland in Malibu, owned by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, the public would not stand for a settlement on such idiosyncratic terms. Nor would our board members, living all over Southern California, vote for it.

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Joseph T. Edmiston, Pacific Palisades

The writer is executive director of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

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To the editor: “We the people” just lost, and the privileged few just won. Thanks to the Coastal Commission, the public lost its right to access 8.5 miles of our most treasured public beach by land.

And what did wealthy homeowners win? The right to dictate who may have the privilege to visit our public beaches in the Hollister Ranch area, and that doesn’t include you or me unless you have a boat or can paddle or swim the two miles to get there.

This decision may have turned the tide along our coast. The message: Fight long enough, and the Coastal Commission will banish the public from the coast outside your window and award you a private beach.

Kathryn Anderson, Costa Mesa

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