Enscondido Beach closed to the public

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The Department of Beaches and Harbors and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority have closed access to the beach until further notice.

By Hans Laetz/Special to The Malibu Times

Two public agencies, acting independently from each other, have blocked public access to one of Malibu’s most beautiful beaches. The public sand at Escondido Beach is reserved for beachfront homeowners only until further notice.

The Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors padlocked the pedestrian gate at Escondido Creek after storms two weeks ago. Lifeguards said they had been ordered to padlock the gate at Escondido Creek by the Department of Beaches and Harbors due to the hazard of high water in the creek crossing the beach and debris on the beach.

However, a recent inspection trip by the The Malibu Times found a pristine beach, almost entirely free of debris of any description. Water in the creek could charitably be described as shin-deep and five feet wide. Beaches and Harbors officials did not return phone calls for this article.

A quarter mile up Pacific Coast Highway, the beach and roadside gates to the beach access path and stairway just west of Geoffrey’s are also padlocked. But this closure was ordered by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.

Chief Ranger Walt Young said recent rains caused a large tree to either sag or threaten to fall across the narrow public beach access path.

“We are soliciting bids right now to have that tree professionally removed,” Young said. “We cannot have people walking under a large tree that is falling and getting hurt.”

The closure of both gates caused consternation to kayakers, divers and others who were rebuffed from entering the beach during the weekend’s sunny skies and calm seas. Enterprising beachgoers found they could illegally access the sand by ignoring no trespassing signs and wading through Escondido Creek under the highway bridge.

“That’s crazy,” said one surfboard-toting youth, who had braved rock-hopping over the four-inch deep creek while carrying a surfboard. “Are they afraid I’m going to drown in the creek?”

The two closed access gates are the only usually open legal coastal accesses between Latigo Beach and Point Dume.