Geffen Agrees to Public Access at Beachfront Malibu Home
By CHRIS DIXON
Published: April 17, 2005
media mogul David Geffen has agreed to allow public access to the beach
in front of his multimillion-dollar home in Malibu, Calif., ending a
long-running battle with the state and nonprofit groups.
part of the agreement, Mr. Geffen will pay the California Coastal
Commission and State Coastal Conservancy $300,000 in legal costs and
will give the public access to the beach from the Pacific Coast
Highway, the commission said on Friday.
absolutely delighted," said Steve Hoye, the director of Access for All,
a nonprofit group in Malibu that fought to open the beach to the public
and will be in charge of maintaining the public access areas. "I think
this sets a wonderful precedent in that someone with unlimited
resources and heavy-duty law firms can't find a way around the law."
Neither Mr. Geffen's lawyer nor his spokesman, Steven Amerikaner, would comment on the settlement or the case.
1983, as part of an agreement to develop his beachfront compound, Mr.
Geffen granted the state an easement that would have allowed the public
onto the scenic Carbon Beach. By law, all California beaches are open
to the public up to the mean high tide line. For the last three decades
the State Coastal Commission has fought vigorously for public easements
through private property. In that time, more than 1,300 deals have been
reached with private property owners, but many spots remain off limits.
no agency or local group offered to take charge of maintenance or
liability insurance for the walkway at Mr. Geffen's compound, the
coastal commission did not pursue public access on his property. But in
2002, as the easement was set to expire, Mr. Hoye and his group offered
to supervise the walkway with the help of a state grant. Shortly after,
Mr. Geffen filed suit against the commission, the state conservancy and
Access for All. His lawyers argued that the public access represented
an unconstitutional taking of land, that the state had to perform an
environmental review and that Access for All did not have the resources
to maintain the walkway.
In agreeing to cover the coastal
conservancy's $300,000 in legal fees, and giving a gate key to Mr. Hoye
that would allow the public access to his beachfront, Mr. Geffen will
open his once-private access to the beach from dawn to dusk.
Mr. Hoye and others said they would continue the fight for public access to every inch of California's 1,160-mile shoreline.
huge," said Peter Douglas, the executive director of the coastal
commission, "that a guy with his resources - who brought all those to
bear to fight the public's right to go to the beach - to have him back
off is a strong signal to everybody out there who is holding out and
resisting or trying to prevent the public from exercising their right
to go to the beach. We're going to pursue these access ways as
vigorously as we can."