Paradise Cove Road and PCH

The intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Paradise Cove Road. 

The California Coastal Commission (CCC) on Friday sent warning letters to the owners of Paradise Cove requesting that they stop charging visitors for beach and pier access at the popular Malibu destination, raising concerns among residents who fear an increase in visitors will negatively impact safety.

The fees for access, according to Paradise Cove’s website, run $40 to park and $20 to walk into the property, which is owned by Kissel Co., operating as Paradise Cove Land Co. Those prices usually rise during peak season.

Sending these warnings, which could result in heavy fines, fulfills 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.

Veesart then had the proper authority and the proper motivation for sending the letters.

“Essentially, the public has the right to access the beach,” Veesart said, “and they have a right to access it without being charged to do it.”

Whatever the legality, residents of the Paradise Cove Mobile Home Park say that limiting beach access is a necessary safety measure.

“We already feel overburdened with the number of people coming in, and that’s people who are willingly paying,” said Leslie Starus, former president of the Paradise Cove Homeowners Association. Starus has been living in Paradise Cove since 2000, and spent over 10 years as HOA president of the small community.

Speaking on behalf of the current HOA board, including current president Linda Reigel, Starus said there is a laundry list of issues that arise with increased visitor traffic.

Increased trash on the beach, lack of adequate bathrooms, security, traffic hazards and dangerous parking along Pacific Coast Highway are just some of the HOA’s concern.

“There are already gangs of surfers that are fighting with each other as they walk down the beaches,” Starus said, adding, “There’s theft that’s been occurring, we’ve never had that ever in years before.” 

The Malibu Times reached out to Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station to confirm an increase of crime around Paradise Cove, but they could not provide data by press time Tuesday.

Parking on PCH near Paradise Cove has been a contentious local safety issue for years. In spring 2014, Caltrans and the City of Malibu placed 10 “no parking” signs along the roadway near its intersection with Paradise Cove Road, citing safety. Not long after, the CCC ordered the signs be removed.

“We’ve been working with Caltrans for quite a while trying to make the roadway where people can park safer,” said Councilmember Laura Rosenthal.

“One of the purported reasons that [Kissel Co.] had increased the fees was so that they could reduce the number of people going in,” Rosenthal stated. 

Kissel Co. President Steven Dahlberg did not respond to requests for comment.

“This is really between … the property owners and the Coastal Commission,” said Rosenthal, who added that “a lot of it is trying to make it safer for the residents and the visitors.”

Rosenthal said she personally supports public access to beaches, but not at the cost of safety.

When asked for a best-case scenario of how the disagreement would end, Rosenthal said she did not have one.

“I’m not sure which way it could go. This is going to be a battle between Paradise Cove and the Coastal Commission,” Rosenthal said.

According to Veesart, Dahlberg has 30 days from the issuance of the letters to bring Paradise Cove into compliance, or he could face fees ranging from $700 to $11,500 per day.

(4) comments

annie_pope

Do, please follow up with the Sheriff's Department for those figures. I wonder if they put you on hold for the time being thinking you'd forget to check back after deadline. That is public information and it is information that I would be interested in knowing. Maybe you could do a separate story about the actual crime rate around there. Is this "reported" crime, or actual crime. And is it "perceived" crime, or are the statistics born out over time? Sometimes you'll find one particularly year with a spike in it (maybe one person is responsible for it), and then, the following year it is back to normal, and maybe even lower than normal. Why should one restaurant and an HoA have the right to keep people from walking onto our beautiful beaches. Even beaches with homes built on them have public access stairways. It strikes me as illegal for them NOT to allow for public access -- their walk-on fees are totally outrageous.

Robert Dot

Pull the liquor license or better close the restaurant. Return the beach to the public. This place is an ongoing danger to the community and they know it.

I could see charging to park, but how do you charge to walk to the beach? I don't go to paradise cove anyway, the food sucks to high heaven, and the water is too close to the concentration of mobile homes on septic.

Dani Sue

Hey, I have an idea. If the residents are concerned with increased foot traffic maybe they should confront the business owner that caters to the weekend drunk crowd on the sand.
Maybe it's just me but I would think that surfers and families on the beach would be a lot less destructive than the hoards that come to drink.

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