See? No conflict. Yay.

After banking $10 grand from So Cal developer Sanford Edward, Coastal Commission Chair Bonnie Neely will undoubtedly take a penetrating look at this new complaint against him.

New beach hours at Dana Point development alarm users

Critics say the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. limit for coastal access at the 121-acre gated community in Orange County chips away at concessions for public use made by the developer.

By Tony Barboza

After a decades-long struggle to win approval for a 121-acre gated community of 118 homes and a resort on a commanding bluff in Dana Point, developers made extraordinary concessions for public access, including four access points and an inclined railway called a “funicular” that shuttles visitors to a secluded beach known as the Strand.

But now that the bluff-top lots, marketed as the “last undeveloped oceanfront property” in Southern California, have started to sell for as much as $12 million, locked metal gates have gone up and signs posting hours have appeared at the top of the stairways: “Coastal Access (Limited to Sidewalk) 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.,” the signs read.

Champions of beach access, including the conservationists and surfers who opposed the project for years, have cried foul, saying the barriers bar them admission to one of Orange County’s great beaches and surf spots if they come at the wrong time.

“They made this grand balancing act to justify this project, and now they’re chipping away at the public benefits,” said Chad Nelsen, environmental director of the Surf- rider Foundation.

The California Coastal Commission is investigating the gates and hours of operation to determine whether they violate the development permit or state law, which requires the maximization of hours of use for public beach access and recreation. Late last year the agency wrote to express its concerns to Dana Point, which manages the stairways.

Sanford Edward, president of Headlands Reserve, the developer, declined to discuss the posted hours. “I’m unavailable,” he said before hanging up.

“Mostly it has to do with privacy after-hours,” said Carol Finizza, a spokeswoman for the company, who cited concerns about visitors wandering off the pathway in the darkness of the early morning and evening.

The debut of the long-awaited pathways to the Strand highlights the difficulties in balancing public beach access with the expectation of privacy in a gated community where the wealthy drop millions for a an ocean-wave view.

“It pits private property ownership up against the right to get to that wet sand that is in our Constitution,” said Fran Gibson, board president of Coastwalk California, a nonprofit coastal protection and access group that says the posted hours require permission from the state. “Nowhere on the coast of California can you limit the hours just willy-nilly.”

City officials say the development agreement gives Dana Point the right to set hours, mostly to guarantee public safety.

“You obviously don’t want people walking in the dark along the trail,” said City Manager Douglas Chotkevys.

Chotkevys called the development a scaled-back compromise that provides an unheard-of amount of public amenities, including new trails, open space and a panoramic overlook with lush greenery called Strand Vista Park, where view-blocking hedges and a trailer park used to sit, all while giving the developer a chance for a “substantial” return on its investment.

“You had a private beach with no access, and now you have five ways of getting there,” he said. “It’s a gated community, and you can walk through it.”

The Coastal Commission approved the project in 2004, but only after a decades-long legal, legislative and environmental battle.

At the time, conservationists, including the Sierra Club and Surfrider, decried it as a “catastrophic” loss of a treasured coastal promontory.

With those battles in the past, surfers now marvel at the ease with which they can get to the beach by descending long stairways.

But they are frustrated, Nelsen said, that they are being barred from using them for early morning forays into the waves or sunset surfing, although the closing time will be extended to 7 p.m. in the summer.

For comparison, another staircase just down the coast of Strand Beach, operated by Orange County’s parks agency, is closed from midnight to 5 a.m.

But those long-standing limitations haven’t generated the outcry of those at the pathways through the new development.

Nelsen, for instance, reported that security guards riding golf carts have harassed and tried to ward off surfers as they walk down to the beach.

A spokeswoman for the developer, however, said reports of rousting are false.

With the down economy, populating the oceanfront lots with custom-built homes has been slow-going; only a few houses have been built, and 85 lots have yet to be sold.

Eventually, the largest, most secluded parcel is expected to go for $17 million, which has some conservationists seeing a different reason for the barriers to access: elitism.

“We see this up and down the coast,” said Gibson, the Coastwalk California president.

“That when there’s a gated, private community given to expensive, large homes, there’s this sense of ‘this beach is mine,’ ” Gibson said.

27 Responses

  1. Regime change begins at home.

  2. At the even announcing her candidacy there were at least a hundred people. Three or four of them were even from her district.

  3. Sorry. Event.

  4. Were all 5 of her financial backers there too?

    What a groundswell of community support.

  5. Four more years of this shit, please.

  6. So now we know about the donation. Nothing new here, wait until she files her next one, I bet there will be many interesting things there.

  7. Bonnie is probably the most conservative Commissioner at the CCM. You’ll need to have a serious regime change if you wanna influence that board. Who knows Rob, Bonnie could ultimately be your ally in the Marina Center!

  8. Your “reality” has little understanding of Bonnie’s hatred for Arkley. She would never be an ally for anything that has anything to do with Arkley.

  9. I’m sure that Bill Pierson is giving her all that cash so that way she will help him have more competition in the hardware business.

    Maybe Bill and Ralph Faust will be his ally, too.

  10. That’s because she is actually a Republican Einstein! She only switched to Democrat because it is the flavor of the time.

  11. To me, the list of donors is a non issue. Neely has a suspicious developer in SoCal & a local hardware store owner and Bass has the who’s who of the local developer scene- Kramer, Barnham, Renner, O&M, Hilfiker, Eureka Sand & Gravel, etc. etc. And add the Arkley money spend on the TV & radio campaign smearing Bonnie & the Coastal Commission.

    We all know why the money flows towards each respective candidate. Pointing fingers either way is really a waste of time.

  12. Especially for Neely supporters.

  13. Ok, so, Salzman is cheering about “seeing” his Arkleyville stickers – says the “resistance” is alive…

    The “resistance?” You mean Salzman running around in the dark of night sticking his little stickers on parking meters in an attempt to make it look like a “grassroots” groundswell? Hilarious. I think you know who the “resistance” is, Richard Marks blog post pretty clearly shows it.

    OK, so, what would “Arkleyville” look like? Like the Boardwalk? Like the Zoo building? Like the Co-op? Like the Starbucks building in Eureka’s downtown? Like the Arkley Center for the Performing Arts? Pretty nice. Those aren’t cheap steel buildings.

    And what would “Salzmanville” look like?

  14. Help! Trying to get back in the game. Heralda blocked me out. Changing my name and my avatar. Love you bugs!

  15. You know, Bridgeville is for sale pretty cheap. Salzman, Miller and Nichols could pool their money and buy it, and set up their own little utopia…it’d be fun, guys.

    Ken Miller could finally be in charge, openly… They could set up their own system of government, make up their own city council, with a special ward system, hold council meetings and ban all kinds of stuff, like corporations and donations to anybody but themselves… they could mandate cleanups of all the properties they own, gee they could even clean them up, wouldn’t that be great? they could ban the name Arkley entirely.

    They could even rename the town – Salzmanville. Millertown. Nicholsburg. Imagine the possibilities.

    People would flock there, looking for a better life – not sure how they would handle the growth though. That might mean sprawl.

  16. This post sucks!

  17. Not when I was there…. did you “gradeeatte”, friend???? Or can you just not count?

  18. Jennifer Kalt’s pig stye of a house in McKinleyville.

  19. Gotcha !

  20. Political Corruption Meter Readings:

    Local “donations” to slimy candidates – $10,000 seems like a representaive bribe.

    PCMR Scale: 1 to 3 on a scale of 10.

    State & County “donations to slimy candidates – $100,000 seems like a representative bribe.

    PCMR Scale: 3 to 6 on a scale of 10

    National “donations: to slimy candidates – 1 Million seems like a representative bribe.

    PCMR Scale: 6 to 10 on a scale of 10.

    I’m just saying…

  21. Bribery requires two participants: one to give the bribe, and one to take it. In some countries [AND IN THE COASTAL ZONE] the culture of corruption extends to every aspect of public life, making it extremely difficult for individuals to stay in business without resorting to bribes. Bribes may be demanded in order for an official to do something he is already paid to do. They may also be demanded in order to bypass laws and regulations. In some developing nations [AND IN THE COASTAL ZONE], up to half of the population has paid bribes during the past 12 months.

  22. Well said

  23. Great points Rose. I couldn’t agree with you more.

    By the way, Bonnie Neely’s phone number:
    (not going to be posted here, Hugs)

  24. This is still my favorite photo of her.

  25. I got cut out of H, asked to many embarrassing questions, so I’ll post here how much I am in favor of JD charging the CC for legal services. The CC has become a dictatorship and needs to be restricted to its original function. The bribery is caused because of the power it holds over people to conduct business.

    I like the idea of Salzmanville. Send all those idiots there and put them in charge of themselves. They would soon be sick of each other.

  26. I posted this on Heraldos site after seeing the quest for money directly by a Coastal Commissioner and I know Heraldo will delete er.. “modify” it. Hope you keep it on your site.

    “…The world’s smallest violin Sara…those of us that have had to wade through the disrespectful BS in open Commission hearings where you and the other commissioners out and out TAKE property rights and punish landowners for even thinking that they have the option to develop in the coastal zone flies in the face of everything this country stands for. The Coastal Commission should be disbanded and you and the other commissioners should be in prison. Shame on you. How dare you ask any of us (you know, the people whose rights you userp frequently without even blinking)for dime one???? Take a long walk off of a short pier in shark infested waters – you’ll be right at home…”

  27. Yep, it’s 3:17 and my comment on Heraldo was deleted. Thanks Bugs for being here.

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