A provocative letter from Marshall Lumsden in this week’s Malibu Times concerns Broad Beach, sand-berming and the responsibility for “maintaining” our beaches and accessways. Unfortunately, Mr. Lumsden doesn’t seem to really understand the natural processes of the winter tides, nor does he really get that the duty of the Coastal Commission is to keep our beaches as natural and healthy as possible, which means more often than not, simply leaving them alone.
The tide comes in, the tide goes out. In the winter, it comes in further and goes out further. It brings the sand with it and sometimes it takes much more of it away, especially when it meets and scours against impenetrable solids like houses and rip-rap. Storms, almost always in the winter months, exacerbate this phenomenon. No amount of sand berming or bulldozer antics will ameliorate the sand level. In fact, they almost always make the situation worse. Hopefully, in the summer, the gentle, longshore coastal drift will restore the sand. If not this year, then next year. It’s natural.
But is that actually why the Broad Beach homeowners ravaged the beach and built their berm, to protect the beach itself and to prevent the sand from washing away, as Mr. Lumsden implies? No, I don’t think so. It just might have had more to do with building a “natural” barrier between their homes and the public visitors in the light of the Coastal Commission telling them to disband their little beach police force.
As for the responsibility of maintaining the coastal accessways, yes, it’s difficult in the winter, when Nature is harsh. She doesn’t care. But I actually think Los Angeles County does a decent job, considering that it really shouldn’t have that job in the first place. When it incorporated, the City of Malibu should have taken on the responsibility for those and future accessways, their maintenance, beautification and improvement, just like every other coastal community has. When you take 27 miles of the best beaches in California, you take on the responsibility of facilitating the people of California getting to those beaches. After all, they own them.
Access for All