Second Broad Beach gate to reopen soon

After public outcry that the only two public access gates to Broad Beach were closed, one has reopened and the other is due to reopen soon.

By Homaira Shifa / Special to The Malibu Times

Following several weeks of controversy, the eastern gate at Broad Beach has permanently reopened, while the western gate is due to open within the next couple of weeks, allowing visitors access to the beach once again.

There are two gates that grant public beach access at Broad Beach. But both had been closed for several months.

The gates were first locked in January during construction of a rock revetment to protect the homes along the shoreline. But when the construction finished in April, the gates remained locked.

While homeowners had access to the beach, local visitors were forced to make a two-mile detour to Zuma Beach.

“My family was very frustrated by the extremely slow rate of speed with which the gates were being reopened,” said Brian Pietro, a Malibu Park resident, who was one of the first back on the beach when the gate reopened. “We have bumped into many [who] are very troubled by all of the efforts that have been made over the years to frustrate ‘outsiders’ such as ourselves, from visiting the beach.”

Pietro is referencing the many years that visitors and local Malibu residents have battled with Broad Beach homeowners for public access along the 1.1 miles of shoreline.

Coastal Commissioner Sara Wan made local news headlines in 2003 when she spread a towel on the sand at Broad Beach on what local homeowners claimed to be private beach land. A private security guard on an ATV, failing to get Wan to leave, called Sheriff’s deputies.

In 2005, Broad Beach homeowners hired bulldozers to pile mounds of sand in front their multimillion-dollar homes. The Coastal Commission ordered them to remove “No Trespassing, Private Property” signs and stop using all-terrain vehicles for security patrols.

Some Broad Beach homeowners say they welcome the public.

Former Mayor Andy Stern, who is a Broad Beach resident, said he is delighted the gates are reopening.

“The public is always welcome to the beach,” Stern said. “As long as they respect private property and not climb the rocks, I am very happy that they are back on the beach.”

During the recent closures, the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors examined and monitored the effort to open the gates as soon as possible, Kerry Silverstrom, chief deputy of the department, said.

Construction workers for the Trancas Property Owners Association had been building a stairway on both sides of the gates to allow visitors a safe entrance to the beach. However, upon completion, the project was deemed unsafe and they were forced to make changes, resulting in the delay for public access.

“Each individual step has to be 11 inches,” Silverstrom said. “And they were 10 1/4 inches before they were rebuilt.”

The handrail of the eastern gate entrance had breaks that had to be filled. While there is still some remaining work to be done, the gate will not be locked again, Silverstrom said.

The angle of the western gate stairway had to be straightened, prolonging the opening of it, but it should be done soon, Silverstrom said.

“We used to receive tons of complaint calls from beachgoers,” Silverstrom said, “But the public has calmed down since the gate has reopened.”

Stern said a plan is in action to extend the beach so that everyone has more beach access.

“The project is privately funded by Broad Beach homeowners,”Stern said. “One hundred percent of it.”

Ken Ehrlich, an attorney for the Trancas Property Owners Association, said the project aims to restore and rebuild the entire beach.

“This will be done by bringing in new [sand] nourishment,” Ehrlich said. “New sand to the beach to make it 80- to 100-feet wide. The revetment is only a temporary measure.”

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