Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Orange County: private landscape on the public beach

This is really interesting for me, leaving so close to the seaside of Sunset Beach. I promise to take pictures and complete the post, Sunset Beach seemed to be land of nowhere, between Los Angeles and Orange County, until the annexation to Huntington Beach. Being not so fancy as Newport Beach, the homeowners at the seaside front show respect for the public beach, usually there´s a low tree trunks fence at the property line, and though irregular, one can understand they are not invading the public sands.
Today I´m reading the news at LA Times about Coastal Commission sending letters to homeowners in Newport Beach, and, believe me, a letter from them is scary: 

On the tip of Balboa Peninsula, where multimillion-dollar homes sit snug against the sand and the legendary waves draw crowds of bodysurfers, an unlikely battle is taking shape. At the center are the lawns, lounge chairs, hedges and playground equipment — even a rusty metal shark sculpture — that for years have sprawled out from oceanfront homes onto the public sand. It's all illegal, says the state of California, which has ordered homeowners along some of Orange County's most coveted coastline to rip out the landscaping, sprinklers and all the other upgrades that have crept steadily seaward. The order from the state Coastal Commission reignites the perennial clash between the government and homeowners up and down the coast who have sought to claim the sand next to their homes and, in so doing, given visitors the impression that the public beach is their private backyard. Some of the incursions are extensive. There are full lawns, stone walkways, flower beds, fire pits, birdbaths and colorful displays of cactuses and succulents extending far beyond the public property line. Fences and irrigation systems have been installed, landscapers brought in, gardeners hired. At night, some yards are illuminated with outdoor lights. 
 When Newport Beach put up "public welcome" signs several years ago to remind people whom the beach really belonged to, most disappeared in the middle of the night. "I insisted on those signs being up because I think it's intimidating to the public to see a lawn and a lawn chair and not realize that that's still the public's land," City Manager Dave Kiff said. "And the public has a right to throw a picnic blanket on it and have a picnic." 
 Some neighbors said they are mobilizing as a community and hiring a lawyer to fight the crackdown. One woman, a longtime resident who — like others here — declined to give her name for fear of retribution from the Coastal Commission, said the plot of grass she maintains on the public beach protects her home from blowing sand and shields her from beachgoers. "We know it's not our property, but there's really no reason whatsoever to make us take the grass away. It's nothing," she said. "There's so much beach already that anyone can walk on."

Read the full story:


  1. Qué horror, Myriam: nos creemos que el mundo es nuestro, y no me canso de repetir que somos nosotros los que pertenecemos a él.
    Buen ejemplo, y muy interesante es este, de una situación límite en un sitio público. Se debe sentir allí una persona muy incómoda.
    Gracias por descubrirnos aspectos tan interesantes de la vida.
    Con cariño:

  2. Hola Carol, no me hubiera imaginado que este post resultara interesante, salvo a quienes conocen estas ciudades. Newport Beach es una ciudad de muy alto nivel económico, no tienen necesidad de hacer semejantes invasiones, estas casas, cuestan millones de dólares. Besos,



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