Paradise Cove

“Christmas came early,” according to the state, as Paradise Cove, one of Malibu’s most popular tourist destinations, agreed to no longer charge visitors for beach privileges.

The California Coastal Commission (CCC) came down hard on Paradise Cove in November, threatening to levy heavy fines if the business did not stop charging a $20 — sometimes $40 — fee for “walk-ins.” The deal also requires the pier to be unlocked and all signs banning surfing to be removed. Steven Dahlberg of Kissel Co. represented Paradise Cove in the deal.

The agreement was announced Thursday and drew great support from several state leaders who touted a recently enacted law giving the CCC authority to fine those who block beach access in violation of the California Coastal Act. 

“This is a triumph for public access, and proof that the threat of fines is a very effective enforcement tool,” said Steve Kinsey, Coastal Commission chairman. “We’ve never seen a violation of this magnitude resolved so quickly. Christmas came early for the coast this year.” 

Putting this deal in motion last month fulfilled a longtime goal of CCC Enforcement Officer Pat Veesart, who said lack of adequate beach access to Paradise Cove has been a thorn in his side for years. 

“Over the years, I’ve had many complaints about Paradise Cove, and most of the complaints have either related to people feeling like they were prevented from walking in or being charged to walk in to the beach,” Veesart said. “It’s been on my radar screen, but I don’t feel like I’ve had a hammer. There’s not much I could do about it; it’s private property.” 

That changed, however, when the CCC was granted permission to issue fines for blocking beach access in June of this year. After a “high profile” case of two surfers being blocked by sheriffs from surfing in the cove, a nonprofit called the Black Surfers Collective reached out to Veesart, stating that they too were not allowed to carry surfboards at Paradise Cove. 

The State Lands Commission also became involved when it was determined Paradise Cove is subject to a state lease. 

“We hope this decision sends a strong message that the State Lands Commission and the Coastal Commission are fully committed to protecting beach access for all Californians” said State Lands Commission Executive Officer Jennifer Lucchesi. 

For locals and residents who live in the Paradise Cove Mobile Home Park, there may be a notable spike in the amount of people visiting the famed beach. The area is frequently full during the peak summer season but Malibu City Councilmember Laura Rosenthal, who has worked on several Pacific Coast Highway safety issues, said she still is not sure how the decision could impact traffic and parking along PCH near Paradise Cove. 

“The whole Paradise Cove area always raises red flags for me,” she said, noting that the city has tried to post “No Parking” signs in the area on PCH after obtaining approval from Caltrans. 

“So many people park on PCH already. Will more people do that? I don’t know,” she said. “ ... I think that we could probably do a better job trying to get people to go to Zuma Beach instead, where it’s much safer.” 

If anything, Rosenthal believes more surfers will be taking advantage of the access. 

“What I guess will happen is that probably during the week there will be more surfers there early in the morning when there’s more open parking. The crowds don’t usually come to the area until later [in the day.]” 

(10) comments

James McGowan

I'm all for increased public access to Malibu (and all) beaches, but I fear the situation at Paradise Cove will go from bad to worse with this ruling. First, consider the lay of the land: The only access road is that narrow private driveway. The Paradise Cove parking lot fills quickly and overflow on parking on PCH is already out of control during the entire summer. Geographical issues aside, the fact that the cove is the only beach in LA county without an alcohol ban guarantees that the party crowds will arrive in even bigger numbers. For safety and sanity's sake, ban the booze if you're going to open the gates to an even bigger crowd.

kayo jon

Hans, that's a poor excuse for theft and their belligerent actions against the public and our City.

Steve Woods

End of an Era for those Surfers and property owners who held exclusive ownership of the coveted Key to the private gates and the hard to reach beaches . [crying]

Andy Choka

The city has done a terrible job on Paradise Cove and its' violations. First they let they pollute for over a decade before the county stepped in and forced them to stop letting sewage flow into the ocean. The city has looked the other way on their violation of their Conditional Use Permit for almost a decade allowing them to serve liquor on the beach and renting out party cabanas on the beach. The city keeps claiming they are doing something but they never do anything to Dahlberg and Morris for their violations . Too many free meetings for them at the cove.

Hans Laetz

Kayojon, the Coastal Commission is starved for money, a deliberate action by the Legislature and past governors. It does not have the staff or legal representation to do everything that many feel it "should" do. Numerous staff positions are unfilled. The LA district director retired and the Ventura district manager is spending half his time at the LA office in Long Beach. Until it was given the power to fine, it would have to go to court for enforcement - a very costly process that takes forever. This case sets a useful precedent - Kissel is all of a sudden cooperative and is now acting as a good citizen.

kayo jon

If I read this correctly - the State was aware that Paradise Cove was always in violation of their lease and had leverage but didn't use it. Jennifer and Pat should have sued them long ago. And If Paradise Cove was truly in violation of their lease with the State, there should be financial consequences for them as well. The State should have gotten all the illegally attained money back for the public. Plus, there should be additional charges as a deterrence from ever doing this again. Can you say "class action"?

Robert Dot

In this case it's not the beach its the Lease holders of not so Paridise Cove who explot the small property they lease beyond reason or safty. It's a constant accident waiting to happen. A victims family will soon own what they do its a matter of time.

Hans Laetz

I'm glad the city has tried to make the roadside parking madness safer, by banning parking in unsafe areas. The problem is, there can be no net reduction in beach access.

There needs to be a coordinated effort led by the city between Caltrans, the county, state parks and the Coastal Commission to together come up with clear, prudent safety regulations with mitigation in the form of offsite parking.

A beach shuttle is not a bad idea, but it has to be a shuttle from something like a parking lot to the beaches. Unilateral actions, no matter how pure of heart, will not cut it.

Lois Lyons

If some entity would run a shuttle bus up and down PCH stopping at all the popular beaches parking problems would be greatly relieved and many accidents trefficaccident would be prevented. I wonder why it has not been put into practice.

Robert Dot

Retrobution must be persude! Loss of liquor license and lease. Lease holders have exploted the area for personal gain beyond selfishresoning as well as safty. Enough is enough. Paradise Cove does not own Malibu.

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