Paradise Lost

The environmental expert currently occupying the White House was quick to assign responsibility for wildfires burning in California. Using the venerable Republican strategy of blaming the victim, he tweeted:

“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor.”

In fact, these fires are fueled mostly by grass and chaparral; forest land, not so much.

“Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost…. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”

In fact, California each year sends more dollars to D.C. through federal tax payments than comes back into the state via Federal spending. (As is the case with most “blue” states.)

My former hometown, Santa Rosa, was devastated by wildfire in 1964. Continue reading “Paradise Lost”

Malibu Update

FILE - This Aug. 3, 2002, file photo shows people walking past a sign stating that this beach, in Malibu, Calif., is private property. A Superior Court judge upheld an action by the California Coastal Commission on Tuesday, July 12, 2011, to provide public access to Carbon Beach in Malibu. Judge James C. Chalfant upheld a Commission-issued cease and desist order, which directed Lisette Ackerberg and the Lisette Ackerberg Trust to allow opening up of the public entry from the Pacific Coast Highway to the beach, and to remove a number of items blocking the entry. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)Wealthy property owners on California’s coastline have been relentless in their efforts to keep the common people away from the beaches fronting their expensive real estate. California law is explicit that beaches are public. Regardless of the law, beachfront owners believe they are the rightful owners and do what they can to deny access to hoi polloi. Two owners have received a setback as the California Coastal Commission fined them more than $5.1 million for blocking access to the beaches at Malibu.

After fighting for nine years, Warren and Henny Lent were penalized $4.2 million for “diverting a public easement to private use.” Simon and Daniel Mani, owners of the Malibu Beach Inn received a $200,000 fine and were ordered to build required stairways to the beach, install a $425,000 crosswalk with signals and pay $300,000 to a local conservation agency.

Meanwhile, up north at half Moon Bay, near San Francisco, is considering using eminent domain for the first time in its 78-year history. Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla is demanding $30 million to reopen access to Martin’s Beach. He closed access after purchasing the fronting property in 2008.

A Day at the Beach

beachcarOregon Governor Oswald West in 1913 signed legislation designating its ocean beaches as public highways. “The shore of the Pacific Ocean from the Columbia River on the north to the Oregon and California State line on the south, is hereby declared a public highway and shall forever remain open as such to the public.” Driving on the beach used to be common, as did the sight of a motorist frantically trying to get free from soft sand before an incoming tide claimed the vehicle. The law was revised in 1947, changing “public highway” to “recreation area.” In California, beaches are also, by law, public. The wealthy and the famous find that outrageously unfair to them.

Continue reading “A Day at the Beach”