Letter: Straight Outta Time

Letter to the Editor

In response to Publisher Arnold York’s column “Straight Outta Kafta,” published Dec. 15. 

The publisher’s “Straight Outta Kafka” column about the recent Coastal Commission fines willfully ignores the facts of the case, which your own newspaper has accurately reported on the news page.

Since the Lents purchased the property in 2002, the Coastal Commission has asked them again and again to remove barriers in the public easement that was established in 1979. The Coastal Commission has actively negotiated with the Lents and has sent dozens of letters over the course of nine years.

That’s nine years of due process and nine years of stonewalling.

And then, when the Coastal Commission finally says, “OK, we’re going to have to use our fining power” — a standard power that other state regulatory agencies have always had — the owners say, “Oh, but just work with us, we’re not trying to block access.”

The Coastal Commission has, in fact, relied on fines extraordinarily, conservatively — as this is the first time they have levied fines since they acquired the power to do so two and half years ago. They levied the first two last week — on the Lents and the Malibu Beach Inn — and the Inn’s owners, rather than pretending to be the victim, said, “Yes, sure. We’ll be happy to create the promised public access right away.”

The public has property rights, too. And we’re tired —no, we’re disgusted, really — that we have to wait decades and that we have to use our taxes to enforce laws that are clear, and to fight for public access that has been long established.

The travesty here isn’t the fine on the Lents. It’s that everyone else has had to wait year after year while they knowingly refused to obey the law.

Jenny Price