Victors, spoils etc.
Recently erected street signs directing travelers to Malibu’s gorgeous Lechuza Beach have been cut down by the city. Apparently, a little game of hide and seek for outsiders.
Malibu says welcome, you inland huddled masses, to our shores. Explore the riches of our front yards. Come and splash in deep blue forests of azure alongside our humble residents. Surf with superstar Jonah Hill or wax with reformed antisemite Kanye West.
We are one.
It’s an open invite, sans directions.
Malibu says the signs posed a threat to public safety. The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority—which controls Lechuza Beach—thinks otherwise.
On Monday evening, representatives from the MRCA decried the sign sacking during Monday evening’s Malibu City Council meeting.
“With the summer heat ramping up, we wanted to provide this public service, but the city chose to cut them down and confiscate them,” stated the MCRA.
“It can be very difficult to find this public access down to this hidden beach…This is why the MRCA had these public coastal signs installed on three public access ways along this road.”
The MRCA says not very inclusive, Malibu!
In a formal rebuttal issued this morning, the benevolent City Council suggested the MRCA get bent:
“On June 26, 2023, the City of Malibu removed beach access signs that were installed at three locations along Broad Beach Rd, a city-owned street, near Lechuza Beach. These signs require a City permit to be issued to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA). The City continually supports public access to beaches in Malibu, which is protected under state law for the entire coast of California. Beach access signs are important to visitors, public safety agencies, and nearby homeowners to ensure that beachgoers stay on safe, maintained beach access paths.”
“A City Encroachment permit is needed to ensure that signs are placed in a safe location using standardized equipment. The signs installed by MRCA did not have signposts designed to break away for safety when struck by a vehicle, which is required under California and federal law. They had solid 6” steel posts. The signs were removed because they were not permitted and did not conform to safety standards.”
The safety first angle is appealing. Let’s see how fast Malibu plants new signs pointing the way to their sand. In the meantime, it’s likely to be received as a bananas-in-the-ears, atonal response to shifting socio-political winds.
California’s all-powerful Coastal Commission “plans and regulates the use of land and water” along the coast, with local communities and other relevant agencies, including the MRCA.
Over the past few years, the Commission has sharpened its focus, exerting greater control of who stands on the sand and swims in the sea through prodigious grant-funded initiatives.
“Since the very beginning, we’ve been looking at providing educational and experiential learning and stewardship opportunities to pretty much the whole population of California,” said Chris Parry, the commission’s public education program manager. “But we recognize there is this lack of equity and historical exclusion to various communities for access to the coast.”
Funding includes tossing twenty grand to Paddle for Peace to hold ten events, for BIPOC to learn to surf and one of the many queer surf clubs.
Taking a hard-eyed look at what the Coastal Commission is platforming, Malibu’s hold on things looks tentative.
“Certain communities and populations have been excluded for so long, it’s absolutely essential we make extra effort to make up for that,” said Sarah Christie, the Commission’s legislative director. “I think equity demands a greater focus to ensure those communities are fully supported to have the access they’ve deserved all along.”
You think the cut signs are a simple misunderstanding, a true act of public safety? or is it a helping of Social Darwinism spooned out from Malibu’s finest, necklaced with pride?