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News Alert
Water Restriction in Place Countywide

State to Go After Seaside Dwellers who Block Public's Access to the Beach

The California Coastal Commission now has the power to assess fines against landowners who illegally restrict public access to beaches, instead of filing lawsuits.

A fake no parking sign. Patch file photo.
A fake no parking sign. Patch file photo.

The state agency that enforces public access to San Diego County beaches now has some legal teeth, as a result of a last-minute amendment to the new state budget.

The new law allows the Coastal Commission to issue fines against oceanfront homeowners who put up fake "No Parking" signs or otherwise impede access to California's beaches, all of which are public property below the high tide line.

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, attached a rider to California's $108 billion budget, which was passed by the Assembly and signed by the governor Friday.

The rider has, upon Friday's signature of Gov. Jerry Brown, given the California Coastal Commission the power to assess fines against landowners who illegally restrict public access to beaches.

For the past 38 years, the only way the Coastal Commission could enforce access rules was to file lawsuits. That caused an enormous backlog of cases and allowed some oceanfront residents to flout the laws for decades, beach access advocates said.

Fines assessed by the Coastal Commission will still be subject to administrative hearings and court review.

But property rights advocates have cried foul, and said the new law puts an unfair burden on property owners. It's "a significant game-changer," said Damien Schiff, an attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation.

"A lot of property owners would say the potential downside risk—the value of the penalties and the costs of litigating—could be so high that, even if that property owner was 100 percent certain he's right on the law, it wouldn't be worth it to him," he told the Bay Area News Group newspapers in San Francisco.

The new law is significantly narrower than an original bill carried by the San Diego-based Assembly Speaker. The Coastal Commission can only levy fines for beach access abuse, not for building without permits or damaging wetlands.

The commission staff will still have to go to court to win fines for cases other than access restrictions.

—City News Service

Have you seen fake no parking signing in your neighborhood? Tell us when and where in the comment section below?

Frank H. Robles June 23, 2014 at 09:45 AM
Encinitas is a great place for local beach access...!!!
Cheri Jacobs Aspenleiter June 23, 2014 at 09:58 AM
Totally hypocritical unless the STATE RESTORES the ACCESS to the CHILDREN'S POOL NOW!! The ramp at our only ocean pool served wheelchairs for decades. The STATE added Marine Mammal Park To a HUMAN BATHING POOL. ??? Judge Pate ruled in 2004 a Human Health Ruling that the beach had to be dredged to prevent seals from polluting it. It is the only access ramp on the LCP, and the state is going to allow it to be removed??? Yes seals would still share swimming in the pool. Ironically to restore C.P would be to begin the restoration of the undersea ecology. The Garibaldi are severely depleted. CA Mussels gone from this area as are Tide Pool Creatures. Devoured, Polluted and the disabled blocked. Will the State Allow this?
glenn bernard June 23, 2014 at 12:13 PM
Good move by the Coastal Commission. (oh, cheri, I am glad that the seals can no longer be legally hassled by people)
Cheri Jacobs Aspenleiter June 27, 2014 at 06:21 PM
Seals are not hassled by people. I am in the water with them several times a week, and have never seen seals and people in conflict. It is the people who create the conflict with other people, as usual when huge profits are being made off the view of seals starving and birthing in their own feces causing illness to the seals, and potentially to humans. People who want to close this beach are totally ignorant that to do so, will cause further illness, starvation to the seals and create a total deadzone of our undersea ecology. Go Save the Seas from Plastic Pollution, Save the dolphins from the seals eating their fish stocks. Save the Garibaldi, the mussels, the sea stars. These all need your activism. The Childrens Pool is for humans , disabled humans and young toddlers. It is a bathing pool and there can not legally be feces in it. This was human health ruling of Superior Court Judge Pate i 2004. No poop in the pool. Logic, Law and Common Sense and Human Rights. Civil Rights and ADA Law demands the Children's Pool be restored with an ADA Ramp and the seals to haul out at South Casa. This is the law and the ruling that is the correct and humane solution. Chop off your legs and see how it feels to be excluded from your favorite past time. Our disabled Veterans deserve to be able to have access to the Children's Pool as it was especially built for them!!!!! I'd say just take the next slow boat to China if you disagree, it is tantamount to treason. We have 185,000 amputations in the U.S. each year and the most wounded Veterans than any other state. The ramp at the Children's Pool is protected by the Americans with Disability Laws. The ramp WAS to disability Code in 1948. The City is in very serious violations at the Children's Pool for decades bowing to special interest groups who profit from the view of seals and care nothing for the seal's home. A full scale investigation is underway. I trust that Surf Riders do support Wounded surfers and swimmers to have their access restored. Thank you Surf Riders for having the courage!!!!
James Jones June 28, 2014 at 09:40 AM
Bravo--CHERI- serious overpopulation of seals is championed by morons.

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