Malibu sheriff’s captain speaks to City Council on beach trespassing issue


The confrontation with a Coastal Commissioner and the Sheriff’s Department on a public beach near private homes leads the captain of the local station to recommend citizens arrests as a tactic to get people to leave the beach. In other matters, the council approves the Windsail project.

By Jonathan Friedman/Special to the Malibu Times

In response to California Coastal Commissioner Sara Wan’s recent confrontation at Broad Beach, the City Council held a discussion last Thursday with local sheriff’s Capt. Tom Martin about beach property issues.

Last month, in a situation that was covered by the Los Angeles Times, Wan sat on a public part of the beach near a home. Sheriff deputies and a security guard later confronted her for trespassing on private property. Wan then explained that it was public land.

Figuring out what part of the beach is private property and what is not can be a difficult task. On each property, the boundaries vary in size, with some going all the way to the water and others not. There are additional confusing factors, including where the mean high tide line falls, the point where the land intersects the elevation of the mean high tide.

Because of this, Martin said the department encourages homeowners to make a citizen’s arrest when somebody trespasses private property, on the assumption the person knows the boundary. He said after a threat of a citizen’s arrest, the trespasser usually leaves. But in the situation they do not, it could lead to the department issuing a citation. Martin added that, in the past five years, there has never been an arrest for somebody trespassing on private property on the beach. On Monday, a meeting was to take place with Wan, City Manager Katie Lichtig and Chief Neil Tyler of the sheriff’s department to discuss coastal access issues. However, the parties did not meet.

Also at last week’s meeting, the council chose to delay a vote on rezoning an area of Latigo Canyon owned by a family trust of George Rubens. The 125-acre property is zoned to allow one home per 20 acres (RR-20), and the family wants to change it to one home per five acres (RR-5). In return, 57 acres of the property were offered for open space. On the remaining land, the family would be able to build about six homes. Despite the RR-5 status, the city’s law regarding building on slopes would only allow

one home per 9.75 acres. The agreement, recommended for rejection by the Planning Commission last year, would settle a lawsuit the property owner had against the city.

However, the National Park Service is in the process of creating a sophisticated trail system that would stretch from Point Mugu to Topanga State Park, and it would need to go through the Rubens property. National Park Service representative Melanie Beck said that means the park service could try to buy the property or the owner could allow a public easement for the trail. The council had not previously taken the trail into consideration, nor did the property owner or its representatives know about the trail. Therefore, the council decided to wait to vote on the agreement until the next meeting.

Windsail approved

The council approved the

final agreement with Weintraub Financial for construction of a restaurant/bar and spa at the vacant Windsail restaurant site. Weintraub Financial is also a partner for the Adamson Hotel, a project that has been delayed for years. During a discussion on whether people using a community meeting room that will be built in the restaurant would be able to use a free shuttle service from the hotel to the restaurant, Weintraub attorney Richard Scott said it was “more than likely” the owner of both properties would not be the same. When asked later if that meant Weintraub was backing out of the Adamson deal, Scott said his choice of words was only speculative. Richard Weintraub, head of Weintraub Financial, said he is still involved with the hotel, and that an operating partner is being sought. He said he hoped construction would begin in the spring of 2004.