Late Monday night, the city council will vote again on the Broad Beach sand replenishment project. I think it's important that Malibu residents know the following.
First, the project has significantly changed since the GHAD was approved. The applicant has declared an emergency and removed the sand project from the legal protections of CEQA.
The project itself has changed. Rather than build a public beach from the emergency rock revetment towards the sea, the GHAD secretly switched to a proposed a "privacy buffer" atop the rocks, off limits to the public for between 55 to 102 feet. About 21 percent of the new beach would be sliced off for the privacy buffer, at the western end (where the two access points cross) the privacy buffer would be 40 percent (!) of the new sand.
It gets worse. Because much of the new sand will wash away immediately, the state estimates that the "public" section of the beach could erode up to the "privacy buffer" within five years. This would "raise the potential for renewed access conflicts at Broad Beach. The potential for enforcement by private security guards ... reminiscent of previous conflicts over public access and use of Broad Beach exists, and it would be particularly inappropriate as the buffer would OVERLIE PUBLIC LANDS" (all quotes from the state analysis).
Yes, those rocks are on public land, "The emergency revetment presents a physical barrier to lateral access for beach goers who are otherwise legally entitled to use (public lands and easements) for recreational purposes. In total, more than 94 percent (±1.16 acres) of these public lateral access easements lie beneath or landward of the existing emergency revetment.
"The existing rocks cover a total of approximately 3.0 acres, and cover or cut off access to a total of approximately 2.02 acres of existing public trust land and existing lateral access easements." The rocks were placed on the property of the California State Lands Commission, in trust for the people of California, WITHOUT THAT AGENCY's PERMISSION.
At completion, we would get a total of 15.6 acres of dry sand beach. The state says the constructed beach would immediately undergo reworking by waves and tides ... narrowing the beach by approximately 30 percent after the first year to a total dry beach area of approximately 11 acres. Of this total beach area, the privacy buffer would prohibit public access on 3.5 acres (32 percent) of this new beach which, it should be noted, would be located on public trust land.
Plus, the new sand dune "nature reserve" would be crossed by 130-plus paths from homes to the water.
Worse, the city council is being asked to approved a Coastal Development Permit -BEFORE- the project is finalized. All control is being passed from our elected representatives to three appointed politicians in Sacramento.
I am in favor of the sand replenishment. The Broad Beach homeowners were justified in the emergency rock installation. And a new beach needs to be built, in exchange.
But the GHAD is getting enormous public benefit, here. They should be able to build their new beach, a new PUBLIC beach. If they balk, the state will order them to remove the rocks from state property. They may be an emergency stopgap, but they are not a legal permanent solution.
Under Malibu's LCP, vertical beach access is required every 1,000 feet. There should be five beach accessways on Broad Beach, not two. Of course it's too late to add three vertical accessways, that would never work. But land-side Malibu residents are entitled by law to use public beaches, to park near them, to have facilities to use them.
OK, city council. You punted it on the lagoon, on PCH, on countless other coastal issues. It's time to step up for Malibu residents, not all of whom live on the beach.
Table the measure on tonight's agenda. Ask the city attorney to come back with a CDP process that keeps the city at the table, then get to work, and balance and protect the rights and needs of Broad Beach residents, and those of us on the other side of the road.
Hans Laetz, Malibu
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