Dan Blocker Permit Notification

A sign posted on a fence at Dan Blocker Beach notifies the public of the pending access improvement project for the beach, which has been owned by the public since 1979 but remains hard to access. LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky estimates the county will break ground on the project by April 2014. 

Melissa Caskey / TMT

Like an untapped gold mine on “Bonanza,” Malibu’s rough-hewn Dan Blocker Beach sits along a stretch of Pacific Coast Highway waiting to become a piece of public treasure. 

Publicly owned since 1979 but never made easily accessible, the LA County Department of Public Works is seeking permit approval from the Malibu Planning Commission at a Jan. 6 meeting on $5.5-million plans to improve public access at the beach. Currently, the one-mile stretch of shoreline is encumbered by tattered fencing and overgrown dry brush.

Third District County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky predicts the county could break ground on the one-year project by April 14, pending approval from the Planning Commission and the county hiring a consultant. 

Blueprints for the Dan Blocker Beach Access Improvement Project include plans for 14 parking spaces with 90-minute metered parking, one ADA-compliant parking space, a 242-square-foot public restroom, concrete picnic tables, three public viewing areas and concrete benches.

Yaroslavsky originally estimated the project would be completed by summer 2012. Nearly 18 months after that season passed, Yaroslavsky on Tuesday faulted the bureaucratic planning process for the project’s delays.

“These access projects are complicated and they’re expensive,” he said. 

Actors Michael Landon and Lorne Greene, who bought the beach and named it after their co-star Blocker, a.k.a. “Hoss,” on the western-themed television show “Bonanza,” donated the property to the state in 1979. The one-mile stretch of beach runs from Latigo Shore Drive east to Corral Canyon Road along Pacific Coast Highway. Greene and Landon intended the land to be used for public recreation. After acquiring a couple of pieces of neighboring land, the state donated Blocker Beach to the county in 1995.

But the one-mile stretch of beach has devolved into a rather meager eyesore in the past three decades, as decades-old fencing keeps out the public while litter from passersby piles up among the brush. 

Fed up with a lack of response from the county and Yaroslavsky in 2011, former Malibu Mayor Jefferson Wagner and current Councilman John Sibert pressured the county to hand over control of Blocker Beach to the City of Malibu, which does not operate any city beaches. The county rejected their offer.

Two years later, Wagner this week said he is “hopeful” about the permit coming up for approval. Still, he believes the county has neglected the project for too long.

“It’s the people’s beach, it needs to be open,” Wagner said.

Yaroslavsky doubted Malibu’s ability to speed up the project had it been under city oversight.

“We’re paying for the lion’s share of it, the county is,” he said. “...We don’t typically give people our project. [The city] would have had the same issues with private property ownership.”

The county obtained a final one-acre piece of neighboring land in November 2012 for $400,000. Since then, the permit for the access project has been working its way through the City of Malibu’s planning department.

“We had to obtain the land adjacent to it and deal with the City of Malibu in planning it,” Yaroslavsky said. “...At the request of the city we bifurcated the project.” 

With plans bifurcated, or divided, the project is addressed into two segments (east and west), with two access points planned on the eastern portion of the land and development of parking and all other facilities planned on the western portion.

Funding for the project is expected to come from money collected by the Safe Neighborhood Parks Proposition passed in 1996, state fees collected from vehicle license fees and the Los Angeles County 2012-2013 capital project/refurbishment budget.

The area set to be developed spans about 300 linear feet and is 50 feet wide, according to city planner Stephanie Hawner.

If the Planning Commission approves the permit but a member of the public appeals a decision, the project goes to a hearing before the Malibu City Council.

A full staff report on the Dan Blocker project should be available online at malibucity.org this week.

(13) comments

Matt Horns

Hello mrjamesdixon,

It is a pleasure to enter into a discussion with you. You obviously know much more that I about this Dan Blocker Beach issue.

Regarding the proposed Beau Rivage development, I have followed this issue closely because I am a Fish Head and it potentially impacts steelhead trout habitat in Solstice Creek. I am dedicated to protecting and restoring native wild trout and salmon populations.

The Beau Rivage development presents a conundrum. It is very close to Solstice Creek, a stream that historically supported steelhead trout and is legally considered critical habitat for southern steelhead trout populations that must not be disturbed.

State and County fire safety ordinances require new construction in Malibu to maintain a 200-foot-radius fire safety zone around structures that entails significant disturbance to vegetation within the perimeter. State and Federal environmental regulations disallow any disturbance to the native riparian vegetation in Solstice Creek.

I could be wrong, but it seems to me that it would take an Act of Congress to allow any new construction within 200 feet of Solstice Creek.

Jamie Dixon

Matt, It's not that it would actually cost $5.5 million to enable public access to Dan Blocker Beach. All that needs to be done is to is take down the fence and drop off a lifeguard tower. The beach access would be the same as at South Topanga Beach (except the one staircase), Las Tunas Beach, Coral Beach and the stretch of bluff from County Line to Point Magu. The City would spend $5.5 million dollars on developing Dan Blocker Beach because the money is available and the City likes to spend money (spreading it among friends, or at least people who smile when given City contracts).

Jamie Dixon

Since the proposed parking lot will be used by the new restaurant at PCH and Coral Canyon I'm technically not off topic. That being said, hopefully the City of Malibu issues a Conditional Use Permit for the restaurant, that replaces Beau Rivage, that allows no greater capacity than Beau Rivage was permitted, and I hope the City enforces the CUP (which is doubtful). When the new restaurant opens there will be another intersection that becomes difficult to navigate. We will see traffic problems similar to those at Moonshadows and Paradise Cove.

The City of Malibu should stop allowing development outside the scope of Malibu

Matt Horns

Mamielebu, thank you for your feedback. Perhaps I should clarify my position.

I do not oppose any proposal or ignore any value that this property has to offer to people or as wildlife habitat.

What I am questioning is why constructing a parking lot, some trails, and some restrooms would cost more money than building an entire McMansion in Malibu Colony.

I hope that before any decision is reached regarding this property, a wide range of alternatives are investigated on how best to provide benefits to the local community, wildlife, and/or Native American cultural resources.

Steve Woods

As MrJamesDixon brings to lite , the bigger concern will be across the street from Dan Blocker at the Beau Rivage Restaurant being development into a road house establishment on par with the Bob Morris Paradise Cove and Neptunes Net complete with beer and wine permits for motorcycle clubs ! Great ! More Drunk people crossing PCH to get to the new beach accesses !

mari stanley

Unsafe for general public under County supervision but Horns proposes that the Chumash locals can do it - not understanding that reasoning one bit. Any work on that land would have to comply with the laws and safety regulations regardless of ownership, price tag for public access doesn't come cheaply and it certainly isn't reduced because of the racial/cultural background of management/owners/stewards. If Horns is really saying to not do anything to open the beach to the public, then it needs no management other than to remain under County supervision as it has for all this time. It's not a possibility, sets a precedent in direct conflict with the Coastal Act that identified areas for public access. BEACH ACCESS You don't like the price tag yet you ignore the value of the public recreational opportunities that the access will afford many people over years.

Matt Horns

Here's another possibility for the Dan Blocker Beach property:

Mati Waiya and his Wishtoyo Foundation have done a remarkable job of creating a thriving beautiful living Chumash Village at Nicholas Canyon.

http://www.wishtoyo.org/projects-cultural-nc-chumash-discovery-village.html

Perhaps the Wishtoyo Foundation could take responsibility for management of Dan Blocker Beach.

Matt Horns

Thank you Knowles and/or Arnold for moderating this discussion rather that ending it.

Matt Horns

I agree with Malibulocal, this is about Dan Blocker Beach. What do you all think about the proposal and it's price tag of $5.5 million?

Steve Woods

Dan Blocker Beach is a gem that is hidden in plain site .Access is not denied if you know where the public access points are . Gone will be the days that the secluded nooks and crannies will be empty and devoid of dirty pampers and broken beer bottles . This is a stretch of beach that I treasure and has been maintained by regular locals who make sure visitors take their trash with them . It will be sad to see visitors jockeying for limited parking spots and another dangerous Winding Way scenario .

Wally World

Yay, looking forward to more graffiti and rolled up diapers being dumped.

Matt Horns

I agree that it would be nice to improve public access, but $5,500,000?? That's almost as much as the lagoon restoration project cost, which totally transformed more than 11 acres.

Maybe it would be best to manage the property as wildlife habitat and not encourage people to climb around on a dangerous cliff.

Jamie Dixon

There is not much beach at Dan Blocker Beach. Hopefully the City will decide not to open the this stretch of cliff, which will create more congestion and parking problems along an already too congested PCH. But, 14 parking spaces will be useful, once the City of Malibu enables over-development of the former Beau Rivage restaurant by the owner of the over-crowded Paradise Cove Restaurant, at the expense of people who choose to live in Malibu and who suffer from the over-development enable by the City.

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