SANTA MONICA/MALIBU—Will Rogers State Beach, among other notable coastal gems, is engaged in a legal battle with the California Coastal Commission, which is charged with preserving public access to California beaches. Will Rogers State Beach encompasses Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades and Los Angeles County.
The dispute allegedly involves the institution of evening curfews at various scenic beaches, in many cases also adjacent to private homes and residences. The Coastal Commission argues that curfews violate the Coastal Act, but more importantly, the Commission does not like the practice of many celebrities blocking access. No one at the Coastal Commission was available for comment.
When asked about the curfews, the LA County Beaches Department, which manages Will Rogers and many of the beaches with curfews, explained that curfews exist to prevent unsupervised activity on beaches when life guards are off-duty, and also to prevent lewd and drunken behavior during times when enforcement measures are less likely. The County Department did not associate curfews with celebrities or private estates. As Dusty Crane at the County Department explained to Canyon News, “Most of the beaches that we operate close at sun down except for Dockweiler, which is open until 10 p.m. Of course there is beach access all the time but once the lifeguards clear and leave the beach for the day there is no emergency help or support if something happens.”
According to reports, the applicable provisions of the Coastal Act are interpreted broadly to regulate access, but no mention is made of “access” anywhere in those provisions. The Coastal Act requires permits, but these permits have been used as leverage to coerce beaches.
Parties are hoping to avoid litigation.