Group’s Safaris Show Public the Way to the Water’s Edge on Malibu’s More Secluded Beaches
• ‘This Beach Is Your Beach’
BY ANNE SOBLE
BY ANNE SOBLE
From the Malibuites who live on the land side of Pacific Coast Highway to visitors from halfway around the world, the search for the quintessential Malibu beach experience can be an exercise in frustration if one is limited to the crowded sands accessible from the obvious entry points that lead to the large public expanses of coastline.
Although it may require a map or two and a hefty stack of state documents to ascertain where some of them are located, there are access points interspersed between the often sterile facades of homes on the beach side of the PCH. Beyond these easy-to-miss access ways is a wide expanse of ocean, large swaths of vacant sand and rare opportunities to feel at one with the sea.
Finding these points and understanding the public’s right to be on the sand up to the mean high tide line might seem to be a formidable task, but a group that calls itself the Los Angeles Urban Rangers is changing that.
The group’s nucleus of four rangers have backgrounds in government, journalism, art, and architecture, and share a commitment to public awareness. While others search for the perfect tan, the quartet promotes the alternative beach experience that is available if one knows where to look.
Garbed in snappy ranger-like outfits of their own design, with caps sporting the spiffy Urban Ranger logo, the group’s mantra is get involved, learn, be empowered and enjoy the world around you—it’s a wonderful place.
Formed as a collective to shine a spotlight on the diverse wonders of the greater Los Angeles area, the L.A. Urban Rangers plan one or two projects a year, which they fund personally (most are low cost) or are aided by grants from educational institutions or related organizations.
Currently spotlighted are several weekends of east Malibu and west Malibu “safaris” to show people know how to get beyond (or more usually between) the mansions that line the PCH like martinets so they can enjoy the public beaches on the other side.
“We are trying to show people how to use these public lands,” said Jennifer Price, one of the leaders of the group. “People don’t know where the public land is; they don’t know how to find it.”
Price said residents along the coast, especially in the Broad Beach area, have tried to keep the public at bay for years. “But this is slowly changing.”
She noted that on Saturday morning’s west Malibu safari, the security guard who came over to see what the group was doing was pleasant and helpful.
Price said, “A few homeowners still express displeasure that anyone is near their property, but others are gradually learning to accept the reality that the beach up to the mean high tide line is public land.”
Price says no one has a problem with residents hiring guards to protect private property as long as they accept that their backyards are adjacent to public land. “They have chosen to live next to one of the most important public spaces in California,” she said.
Participants in the safaris are shown how to determine which part of the beach is public. The sand below the mean high tide is publicly owned. They learn how to clearly state their rights if they are challenged by overzealous guards who try to shoo beachgoers away from a beach.
The Urban Rangers have put together a map of where the 16 current public access points along Malibu are located and which of these stretches of beachfront have the most easements.
“The ocean and the sun belong to all of us,” said safari participant Gail Cane. Heads nodded at the notion that no one has to apologize for seeking access to public resources.
Price wants the safaris to be fun as well as informative. “The beach is a wonderful place to refresh and restore one’s spirit.”
The next free safaris are slated for Aug. 11 and 12. There is already a waiting list. For information or to make a reservation, visit www.laurbanrangers.org.
A downloadable map of the access points is available at the site, as is a guide to beach access that is a work in progress and the definitive compilation of access ways that are open to the public.