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Pre-2008 Posts

Malibu Fires: The Beaches are for the People


Malibu Beach

 What rich people have done to Malibu Beach

Malibu incorporated 10 years ago and today is a community of 13,000. Its elected officials support influential homeowners in putting out an unwelcome mat for tourists who venture off plentiful public beaches into residential areas.

If the 10 proposed new Coastal Commission access-ways in Malibu are opened — supplementing four widely scattered existing paths — visitors lucky enough to find parking on the dangerously busy highway will find beaches lacking bathrooms and lifeguards. The sands bristle with “private property” and “no trespassing” signs. The Malibu Colony marks its boundary with a chain-link fence extending into the water at high tide.

I’ve been following the reports of the fires in Southern California especially closely.  Three of my grown kids live down there — John (34)  and his partner, Dani (32), and their two kids, my grandkids,  Jesse (24)  and his partner, Mary (27) , and Jenni, my daughter (31).  I Myspaced them to make sure they were all right.  They are.  As John said, there’s no brush to burn in the city where they live!  The fire will never reach them.  Jenni wrote:

The fires are in Malibu, so we’re ok.  It’s very sad as far as the loss of lives,  but on the upside, I hope this makes all the elitists have to move from the beach, and thereby  give the beach back to the people.  And also save our air quality!  …I can taste smoke in some of my food!  The thing is that fires are supposed to happen here, it’s part of the eco-balance.  But they try to control them too much (due to housing and cities in those firey areas) and then when one finally happens, this happens, too big, and everyone having to breathe this. The lighting is really pretty outside though due to the fires.  But I can see and feel the smoke badly affecting my (everyones) lungs.

I was reminded then about the way the rich own so much of the beach at Malibu and have vigorously tried to keep the public totally off the beaches in all sorts of ways, never mind court rulings that the beaches are for the people.  They erect fences, they put up ugly signs, they sue people for walking on the beaches in front of their homes, they finagle ways to keep people from being able to get to the beach, by making it necessary for them to cross their fenced properties.  It is disgusting and ugly and despicable.

My heart goes out to those affected by these fires.  But I cannot say I hope they move back. 

The natural disasters and catastrophes all over the world in recent years have seemed particularly fierce to me, as though the Mother is saying “Enough.”  This gives me a strange and passionate hope.

Restoration, Fire and Ecosystem Health




8 thoughts on “Malibu Fires: The Beaches are for the People

  1. The fire touched no houses on the beaches in Malibu. I have a friend who lives on Busch Street that I have yet to hear from, she is across PCH right across Zuma beach, east of the shoreline. I drive by Cher’s house all the time. It is huge. She has the prettiest palm trees I have ever seen, the tops that have to be at least 40 feet tall are trimmed on schedule. The beaches in Malibu are very unfriendly. There is even a restaurant, I can’t think of its name now, it is in the neighborhood that Jim Rockford of the Rockford Files supposedly live at in the show that charges people to park and prohibits anyone using the beach who is not dining at that restaurant and/or paid to park. It is not state operated either. Overall, Malibu is very unfriendly. The section of PCH that runs through Malibu is heavily policed. People in Hummers and luxury cars will cut you off in a minute and then curse you out for being in their way.

    Posted by ekittyglendower | October 25, 2007, 6:04 am
  2. I’m glad your kids are ok.

    The rich yankees 😛 keep trying to do the same thing with the NC beaches, but they aren’t having any luck because the Crystal Coast is a huge source of tourism revenue. Of course, there are other environmental problems from this, not to mention that all the little Mom’nPop hotels are being torn down and replaced by high end places, so lower income families can’t afford previously allowable trips.

    I think of the recent intensity of the storms more as actions coming home to roost: global warming=warmer oceans=stronger hurricanes. Add in building right up to the edge of the ocean and cutting down the wetlands, which are the natural buffer, and you get Katrina.

    Global warming + the population density brings about drought and overly-controlled fires, which leads to the wildfires. It’s hubris on our parts. We think the technology will save us.

    Posted by Miranda | October 25, 2007, 11:46 am
  3. Leave it to man to muck up all the natural balancing dynamics and try to replace them with technology. Nothing will save those beachfront mansions after global warming melts enough of the ice near the poles to flood them. That is happening much faster than predicted.

    Posted by Aletha | October 26, 2007, 5:18 am
  4. Aletha,

    Yeah, it’s gonna be instant cultural transformation.

    What happens to the rest of us is anybody’s guess, but hey! talk about “eat the rich”.


    Posted by Mary Sunshine | October 26, 2007, 10:54 am
  5. I find it surprising that people are allowed to privatise beaches, its against the law here – you can have private beach frontage, but not the beach itself, and you can’t block public access.

    Environmental degradation was brought close to *home* to me recently. About a month ago, I returned after decades to visit my childhood hometown. A small village in the Australian semi-desert region, but sited on a major river, a major riverport in the 19th century with paddlesteamers, riverboats, ferries and punts.

    When I left high-school in the 70s, despite some environmental degradation due to damming and siphoning off into canals for large-scale irrigation farming practices, it was still a large, wide, deep strong river. In 2007, its a small, shallow creek. I loaded some “Before” (1978) and “After” (2007) photos on a website, if anyone is interested in having a look at:

    Cheers – Rain

    Posted by Rain | October 27, 2007, 6:18 am
  6. Hey, Rain! Good to read you, haven’t “seen” you in a while, and I hope you are well.

    It’s illegal to in the U.S. to “own” the actual beach, as well, but the rich exhaust every effort to do it anyway, mostly by fencing their properties in certain ways, making it impossible to find parking, etc. Sometimes they just tie things up in court forever, and that buys them years to hog what doesn’t belong to them– the beaches. There was one woman– I may be mistaken but I think she was Walt Disney’s widow? — who attempted to buy this gigantic stretch of Malibu beach property and keep all the beach for herself. She was sued and the lawsuits stretched over years and years. She ultimately lost, but in the meantime, she *did* have the beach mostly to herself and she made it so hostile and impossible for people to get to the beach that they gave up. I mean, geez. People go to the beach to enjoy our beautiful Mother Earth, not to fight with despicable lunatics over setting foot on their property or whatever!

    So sad about your river-turned-creek! 😦


    Posted by womensspace | October 27, 2007, 1:56 pm
  7. Hey heart, *hugs* – I dont get time to post much but I do read through regularly 🙂

    I *see* what you mean about your beaches being tied up in courts etc.

    Thanks for your thoughts about the river, it was a shock to the system to see it so decimated in such a short time. All the birdlife gone, all the fish gone, as if they never existed. All the farms lying bare, hours upon hours of driving through wasteland – you see it on TV news or documentaries all the time, but to have it in your face, was a true Reality Check!

    Posted by Rain | October 28, 2007, 7:31 am
  8. Yeah, Rain. It takes a herculean effort, at least in the U.S., to repair the creeks and rivers once they have been damaged. A creek runs alongside my property on one side. I won’t get into the details of the long, convoluted and exasperating story, but the wooden bridge across it was broken by a @%&@$%*$^!%$# garbage truck driven by a scab driver during a union strike. The union drivers knew not to drive down the long dirt road and certainly not across the bridge. Trash pickup is way up at the top of the hill. Anyway, the bridge got broken. It was shared between two families, mine and one neighbor. It was actually on the neighbor’s property and we had an easement to use it. It was the only way to and from our house.

    The neighbor collected money from the insurance company for the garbage company, then abandoned his house and declared bankruptcy without fixing the bridge, leaving us with no way in and out of our property, other than to park at the top and walk across the broken bridge each day. That’s a very long story, everything that happened during the nearly three years that the bridge was out.

    The bridge was finally replaced by a salmon foundation in our state. The foundation was able to do the work because the stream needed to be repaired, in part because of many years of the bridge being patched, parts breaking off, stuff getting into the creek bed and impeding the path of Chinook salmon. It was shocking, though, what it cost to fix the bridge. This is a bridge across probably a 30-foot creek bed and only two families use it. With the permits through the Fisheries and Wildlife Commission, etc., along with all of the other building permits and so on, the cost of the bridge and stream clean up, paid for by the Salmon Commission, was over $100,000 and took over a year. The creek is healthy now for the salmon to spawn, and I’m so happy with the way everything turned out, but it was so sobering what it actually took to restore it to health again!

    Of course, once a creek has diminished to nothing, it cannot be restored, and people and animals pay, if not immediately, eventually.


    Posted by womensspace | October 28, 2007, 3:19 pm

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