Song of the beach


Once again I must take issue with Marshall Lumsden’s analysis of the problems and solutions for Broad Beach. It seems to be based on a profound misunderstanding of natural processes, and a naive desire to harness Nature, which is always dangerous, especially without that understanding.

He asserts that beach shrinkage at Broad Beach is abetted by “half a dozen very large storm drains directing runoff from the neighboring hills onto the beach.” That’s actually how beaches are made. The sediment that makes sand is brought to the beach by rainwater flowing from the mountains. Momentum may take it a little way out towards the surf break, but the tides will bring it back. What kills beaches and steals sand are impermeable objects — like houses, sea walls and rip-rap; they promote beach scouring, allowing the ocean to claw the sand far out during big winter storms.

And, of course, when you drag a bulldozer across a habitat like the rack and the beach, you destroy that habitat. You kill all the creatures in it, and those that depend on it for a long time.

I lived out at Trancas for two years, and experienced firsthand the bully-boy tactics of Mr. Lumsden’s little beach police force. I saw how they would zoom up to some unsuspecting beachgoers, tell them this was a “private beach,” and the only place they could park their towels was in the accessway, the only place they could sit was “between the chains.” That memory forged my resolve to do something to change that shameful balance, one that moved me to form Access for All.

However, on one point I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Lumsden. He says that I sing in the Coastal Commission choir. Of course I sing in the choir. But what must be remembered is that two-thirds of the people of California voted for the Coastal Act, they support the Coastal Commission, and they’re all singing right behind me. And they’re singing about true stewardship, real coastal access, and a quality coastal experience on their beach.

There’s no such thing as a private beach in the state of California.

Steve Hoye

executive director

Access for All