Monday marked the traditional end of summer, a prime beach-going time. Two months ago the California Coastal Commission got new authority to fine landowners who block public access to beaches. But so far, the agency hasn't issued any citations.
After years with little enforcement power, the Coastal Commission can now issue fines of $11,250 a day for people who block public beach access. The commission's enforcement supervisor for Southern California, Patrick Veesart, said his division is in the final stages of developing an enforcement strategy, and he expects to start issuing fines in the fall.
Surfrider's Chad Nelsen is looking forward to that. We think that’s really a game changer and as a result people are going to be less likely to violate these beach access laws," he said.
Nelsen says blocked access is particularly a problem along Southern California's largely developed coastline. He points to Strands Beach in Orange County. An access path to the beach remains gated for the fourth summer in a row even though a court agreed with Surfrider that the gate is illegal.
"There are a couple hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening every day when these gates are closed and so it presents an inconvenience," he said. "It takes around 15-20 minutes to get to the beach otherwise you have to walk all the way around."
Nelsen’s hopeful that next summer those gates will be open.