Last night, Tuesday, Jan. 15, I was treated to watch Malibu’s illustrious citizen, Sara Wan, wax eloquent about Malibu’s beaches on national television as she was interviewed at her home overlooking La Costa Beach on CNN’s nightly newscast.
This is what she had to say, word for word. (I taped the broadcast and transcribed it.)
Speaking about Malibu property owners who own property in Eastern Malibu, she said: “They don’t want people there, but the fact is, these are not private beaches, they are public, the public owns the beach.” After the announcer, Aaron Brown, stated that “Sara Wan has declared war on Malibu,” she said: “It may be that these particular homeowners don’t like it, but I’m sorry, that is the law and it is what is fair and just for the majority of the public.” (True, the public owns the beaches to the mean high tide line, but it is private property inland of that point.)
The discussion turned to the beach access easements, and Sara said, “The person who granted the easements granted them as a condition of their permit. They got the benefits of those easements, that is, they got the right to build those homes, and therefore these easements are valid.” (Not entirely true. The easements were “extorted” out of the Malibu homeowner (in the words of the U.S. Supreme Court) as a requirement for issuance of the permit by the Coastal Commission to build, or even to remodel or protect their homes from the sea. Many of these easements were extracted from the homeowners by the Coastal Commission in the early 1980s, before the 1987 Nollan Supreme Court decision which outlawed such extortionary tactics by the Coastal Commission. Consequently, their current legality is questionable.)
The easements, Sara went on to say, “have a 21 year life to them. If the state does not pick them up within 21 years, then the state loses the right to do that.” After it was noted that this period expires in two years, Sara, who is in the process of conducting an open and fair deliberation on Malibu’s draft LCP as a member of the Coastal Commission, said, regarding the easements, “I’m 100 percent confident that they’re going to be opened, and that is a pretty firm statement.” (Don’t bet on it, Sara.)
She concluded by saying, “The sand, the sky, the water, it belongs to everyone, it just doesn’t belong to people who can afford it.” (Sara, I’ll give you the sky and the water, but the land under the sand, above the mean high tide line, belongs to the beachfront property owners. Or don’t you believe in private property ownership, Sara?)
Sara, you were also quoted in a Jan. 7, 2002, New York Times article, regarding the beach access issue, that, “I can’t think of any place that’s worse than Malibu.” (Thanks a lot, Sara. If you don’t like us, why don’t you just move somewhere else.)
As a Malibu Planning Commissioner, I take seriously my duty to render a fair and impartial decision without prejudgment of any issue which comes before us. Sara, obviously you don’t see your role as a member of the Coastal Commission in the same way. Perhaps this is because of the hybrid role of the Coastal Commission as a part-legislative, part-executive branch body (which probably renders it unconstitutional). Perhaps you see your role, Sara, as an advocate to make Malibu into a visitor-serving ESHA, forcing out the Malibu property owners who own beachfront property, and not as an impartial Commissioner. Personally, I think you should resign from the Coastal Commission immediately. You have lost all perspective.
Edward E. Vaill