Beachfront Malibu homeowners took a promised second blow when the California Coastal Commission Friday issued a permanent “cease and desist” order preventing the owners of the 108 houses on Broad Beach from harassing beachgoers with signs, security guards or chains across public sands.
“I think it’s a punitive pursuit of the homeowners association,” said the association’s attorney, Kenneth A. Ehrlich. He noted that the use of motorized vehicles by secirity guards, fence-like chains stretching into the water and signs claiming private ownership of wet sand were eliminated from Broad Beach more than six months ago.
What was described as a beachfront land grab had ended last year, when members of the Trancas Property Owners Association took down the signs and entered into talks with the Coastal Commission staff to resolve the jigsaw of private property lines and public easements along the strand.
But those talks collapsed in June. A major stumbling block was the inability of the volunteer property owners group to broker an agreement that was binding on all 108 properties, said TPOA attorney Kenneth A. Ehrlich.
Then in late June, TPOA hired bulddozers that swept tons of sand from the public tidelands into a mile-long, 20-foot-high berm on the homeowners’ lots — a public relations fiasco that TPOA officials blamed on an overzealous contractor.
The state has asked courts to fine TPOA and its members some $400,000 in penalties for the action. The homeowners had the sand bulldozed back into the public area, but not before killing fish eggs and getting a back eye in news accounts around the world.
Friday’s 8-0 action by the commission, with Malibu member Sara Wan abstaining, is intended to prevent Broad Beach landowners from returning to illegal efforts to poach public land and sand, and restrict the public from walking on state-owned tidelands, according to a commission staff report.Ehrlich said Broad Beach landowners will examine the exact wording of the order, and may put up new signs that comply with the law and “clearly delineate and protect their private property,” he said.