UPDATE May 30: The Kickstarter to fund a Malibu Beach app helping visitors find hidden public beaches has met its goal. At press time, it's over $1,000 over its $30,000 goal, with five hours to go.
Previously: It's been an open secret for a while now — almost six years since we first talked with writer, historian and activist Jenny Price — the pristine 20+ miles of private-looking beaches along Malibu are actually very public. You're free to go there right now, if you want. But what's the best way to get there? And how do you find the often-intentionally hidden gates? Which "no parking" signs are you free to ignore?
Thankfully, there's an app for that. Or, better said: there will be one this summer. Our Malibu Beaches is the product of a collaboration between Price and Escape Apps. It promises to guide beachgoers safely and legally to miles of coveted Malibu coastline with the swipe of a finger.
Here's how it will work: "You can either pick from a list of beaches or just tap the map," said Price. The best part? "It'll tell you where the access way is, which is actually really hard to find," she said. Plus, there's a house-by-house rundown of where there is significant dry sand to play volleyball or just lay out.
John Rabe talked with Jenny Price about not just the app, but also her many clashes with homeowners, security guards and government officials in her long battle to ease access to California's coast to the public.
On her family's legacy of fighting for rights:
"I grew up in this '60s household that was very political. I'd say there's two things from my family that are probably the foundation of this app. One is that I'm the youngest of four children with three older brothers; anybody who's in that position in the family has a really strong sense of justice. Also my parents defended people on the black list during the McCarthy Era; my mom founded the fair housing movement in St. Louis to try to desegregate neighborhoods."
On her work to get governments to open beach access:
"There is a beach way out in western Malibu. It's a beautiful beach, and the county has owned it since 1974, and they still haven't opened it up. It's actually part of a great L.A. county tradition of holding on to and taking charge. They have miles of public beaches in Malibu that they have not opened up. It's very frustrating and this one is probably the jewel of all those. There's this little place that you can go to where you can look over the fence - we call it the disney overlook and drool over our beach.
I find it frustrating when private homeowners block public access, but when it's the public agencies who are creating the barriers to public access I have to be honest I find that even more frustrating."
On making a statement:
"I don't see the app as being a statement; it's not trying to cause conflict. It's really trying to say: we have these great public beaches—let's come and use them."