Sign off


    [NOTE: Since I faxed this letter out on Friday, I have received calls from Gary Timm at the California Coastal Commission Ventura office, city of Malibu Code Enforcement Officer Keith Young and two city councilpersons — Carolyn Van Horn and Tom Hasse. All have expressed concern about the legality of this structure.]

    Homeowners on Riviera One (Zumirez Drive on Point Dume) have constructed a large sign on the beach. It was finished July 29. The purpose of this sign is to intimidate the public into believing they have no right to use the beach.

    The sign is already doing its job. That morning a beach visitor told me, “My girlfriend was afraid to go past the sign. I told her the beach is public. It is . . . isn’t it?”

    The sign is located at the foot of the bluff between Paradise Cove and what is popularly called “Hut Beach,” below and a bit east of the Streisand property. It stands 7-feet 4-inches high on a 3″X3″ square steel post buried in cement perhaps three or four feet deep in the rock outcropping. Because it sits on an outcropping, it towers 12 or 15 feet over the adjacent beach. The 4’1″ high X 3’1″ wide sign itself is white, secured on a heavy steel frame, with a protective cover of plastic bolted on. The three-inch high square lettering in red and black reads:



    CA. PENAL CODE SEC. 602 (N)






    The present location of the sign was apparently a second choice. A few feet away, under a fresh 10-foot high, four-foot deep destabilizing cavity at the bottom of the bluff is an abandoned hole in the rock filled with standing water and cement bleeding over the side. The foot-deep, two-foot-wide hole is a perfect place for a toddler to drown.

    This structure stands out, away from the base of the cliff. It changes the entire aspect of the beach, like so much garbage strewn at the bottom of the cliff. It is a raw scar on the landscape — unsettling, intrusive and arrogant.

    What has happened to our environmentally sensitive City Council? Are they all asleep? Did the city grant a building permit for this monstrosity? If so, they have little regard for the public. Did the Coastal Commission OK this thing? If so, they have abandoned their mandate.

    This abominable sign has a profound impact on a once-graceful stretch of beach. It as alien as a spaceship. It displays all the courtesy of a punch in the face. How can people willfully damage the environment like this?

    It confirms everyone’s image of Malibu: elitist, rich, uncaring and exclusive. If we acquiesce in the creation of such aggressively hostile structures, we are that image, and we deserve to be held in contempt by those who will be deterred from respite on these beautiful beaches.

    If we do not take the part of the public, most of us, certainly our children and grandchildren, inevitably one day will be on the outside looking in.

    Do the Riviera One homeowners actually think they are going to keep the public off that beach? Their fear of liability and their right to post a (smaller) sign does not grant them the right to blight the beach and to bully people. If their concern is about environmental damage, they should stop treating the public like morons and should instead post educational signs in three or four languages, explaining littoral habitats and granting visitors the dignity of concluding that they have a part to play in protecting nature.

    I urge the appropriate governmental body to order this sign removed immediately. The homeowners can put up their “posted” sign in a less intrusive manner — something that takes into account that there are other human beings on the planet. I am the first to champion private property rights, but this sign is overkill. It is a slide into despotism.

    The beaches belong to the people! It is the law.

    Tina Fisher Forde