The half-mile road from Pacific Coast Highway 1 to the coastal resort had a sign that caught my attention. Past the long-settled mobile home park on the left and the newly built gated community luxury homes on the right, the road sign pointed one direction for coastal access parking, but it also stated 25 public Coastal Access parking spaces available at Ritz-Carlton resort. I drove to the hotel gate and inquired. The young guy took my license plate number and gave me an access code to the Ritz-Carlton parking garage gate. I drove in to the open-air, multi-level garage and parked in a space labeled “Coastal Access”. Hotel guests pay $45 + 10% tax per day to park here in the same garage.
What’s up with that?
This is California, baby. Land of the voter initiative whereby the public is supposed to have a voice in the rules we live by. Back in 1972, the voters passed Prop 20, the Coastal Access initiative.
There seemed to me to be very little development along the Central Coast of California in the 1980s. Back in 1991, I traveled along the California coast for about 1,000 miles from San Diego to Eureka. California’s population had topped 30 million by 1991 and had doubled in the 31 years since I was born.
“On sites with coastal development permit proposals, where investigation shows that public use is substantial enough to create potential prescriptive rights, the Coastal Commission is required to protect those areas of use prior to approving a development project that would interfere with those rights.
Development shall not interfere with the public’s right of access to the sea where acquired through use, or legislative authorization, including, but not limited to, the use of dry sand and rocky coastal beaches to the first line of terrestrial vegetation.”
A feature of several California resorts built directly on the coast in the past 15 years is an improvement of access to the coast for people who want to look at the beach and sea, but not necessarily be on it. Public access visitors can share the grounds of the hotel with the guests.