Zell gets a little prickly with the Times

Times columnist Steve Lopez, looking for an angle, went out to Malibu to check out the hard-to-reach public beach near Tribune buyer Sam Zell's estate. After Lopez knocked on the gate and asked the voice on the intercom to have the owner call him, Zell himself complained — higher up in the command chain at the Times.

A half-hour later an editor reached me on my cellphone. He said Zell had heard about my visit and wanted to know why some guy named Lopez was harassing his house staff. He said he makes himself directly available to those who need to talk to him, and he didn't appreciate me upsetting the help.

Wait a minute, pal. I've harassed people before, and this wasn't harassment.

And another thing. Your plan for buying this company makes me a co-owner, so let me be the first to inform you that you didn't buy another trailer park. This is a newspaper, and it's our job to chase stories even if it means knocking on the boss' door.

And finally, you never called me back.

Lopez's column focused on the obstacles to public access put up by property owners near Lechuza Beach, where $10 million in state bond money was used to acquire a long stretch of private sand for the people of California. The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority is planning a lawsuit against homeowners to get the beach opened more easily. Meanwhile, if you want to find out how to reach Lechuza check out Jenny Price's guides (part one and two) to the hidden Malibu beaches here at LA Observed.

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