Grabbing beachfront land


    Sacramento is sending a tempest to the 1,200 owners of ocean front property in Malibu with a new bill that would force the eventual removal of all seawalls on the coast of California and which would prohibit owners from doing seawall repairs after January 1, 2004. AB947 requires the state to apply a recently issued “Coastal Erosion Policy Report” which recommends changing the Coastal Act to require removal of all shoreline protection devices including bulkheads, rip rap, etc. after a “date specified in the statute.”

    Hanna-Beth Jackson, the sponsor of AB947, claims that it is environmentally superior to allow waves and storm to erode coastal property. To the nearly hundreds of thousands of beachfront property owners in California, the bill appears more like another land grab by the state of California to acquire miles of beaches for the public for free.

    AB947 is essentially the same as last year’s Wiggin’s bill (AB2943), a narrowly defeated attempt to require removal of shoreline protection devices at the end of the economic life of an existing structure, “but in no event any later than January 1, 2051.” If AB947 becomes effective with the recommended provisions in January, all seawalls would have to be removed in 46 years and the current market value of an average $3 million beach house with a shoreline protection device in Malibu would drop by 50%.

    A beachfront landowner can expect his fee simple interest in his home to be reduced to a leasehold interest overnight because his property will only be worth the value of the home’s annual rental cash flows for 46 years. Assuming a CPI adjusted $15,000 monthly rental rate, less taxes and maintenance, a 10% vacancy rate, and an 8% discount rate, the net present value of the average beach house with shoreline protection that today costs $3 million will be only worth $ 1,550,000 and would decline every year as 2050 approaches.

    The authors of this policy refer to it as “managed retreat” but it is nothing less than environmental communism. We were all in shock when the Coastal Commission presented us with the 2001 Malibu LCP that prohibited inland residents from doing repairs that would “extend the life of the structure” if their homes did not 100% conform to the new LCP. Never in our wildest dreams did we believe that they would mount an even greater attack on beach residents by ordering their homes to be washed away in 46 years.

    This bill, if passed, will have widespread negative impacts on individual property owners, county property tax revenues, city retail revenues, insurance companies, lending institutions and housing availability. If you are interested in testifying before Hannah-Beth Jackson’s committee in Sacramento at the April 28 hearing on this bill, contact 310-457-2483.

    Anne Hoffman, president

    Land Use Preservation Defense Fund