Surfrider Foundation Strikes Back for Access to Beach Below Dana Point Headlands

Categories: OC Media
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Dana Point sued the state last month to keep locks and posted hours on gates leading to the Headlands' access paths to the public coastline.

Now, the Surfrider Foundation--the San Clemente-based nonprofit that promotes the right to low-impact, free and open access to the world's waves and beaches for all people--has struck back, filing a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court challenging those restrictions.

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The promised land.
The Orange County Register has the scoop.

Lodged like a golden nugget between two pathways at the city-owned Strand Vista Park on the blufftop and the county-owned Strands beach below is the Strand at Headlands, a ritzy development that will plop 118 custom homes on 121 acres of prime Headlands real estate.

The land was formerly the personal vacation spot of the Chandler family, the former owners of the Los Angeles Times, who only allowed access to the beach by invitation. Now, it's open to all--as long as it's between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. (through September) or 'til 5 p.m. (October to April).

Those are the hours posted on the signs that are at the center of the legal wrangling.

Headlands Reserve LLC won approval for its upscale project by promising public access to public land, even if that meant the unwashed would have to tip-toe through their private McMansion paths to get there.

The paths opened in January, and by March 22 Dana Point was approving an urgency ordinance to declare the access a nuisance due to "increased police calls." So, up went the gates and hour postings. 

The California Coastal Commission, which is among the agencies that must determine whether developments conform to the state Coastal Act, informed Dana Point that a permit was required for the gates and restricted hours.

That led the city to sue the state panel, and Surfrider to sue the city.

It's now up to Orange County Superior Court to sort everything out. Surfrider must be hoping the judges assigned to the case are wearing boardshorts under their robes.


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