The homeowner’s motives for opening a public accessway on Malibu's Carbon Beach this summer remain mysterious. However, since rumors continue to fly that he did it to get back at the neighbors, I’d like to make a policy proposal to the state. Apparently, all we have to do to create public access in Malibu is to promote public accessways as instruments of revenge.
(If you haven’t heard: Just before Memorial Day, the Connecticut resident Peter Kleidman, who uses a home he owns on Carbon as a rental property, voluntarily created a beach accessway along the side of the house. In mid June--just after Caltrans posted a “coastal access” sign on the PCH--he officially closed it.)
Here are the theories so far. The Malibu Surfside News reported a fight with the neighbor to the east. I asked other reporters, as well as state officials, who speculated that he was mad at the neighbor to the west--who happens to be real-estate billionaire and civic leader Eli Broad. I heard also that this independent-film producer holds a grudge against the Hollywood establishment. When he closed it, I heard that Broad had sent him a letter--though no one knew the contents. In sum, while we don’t know why Kleidman opened or closed it--and I’d like to think the best of him--absolutely everyone seems to agree that opening a public beach accessway would be an unusually effective form of blackmail against the neighbors.
So why didn’t state officials think of this before? There must be thousands of people out there who have a serious beef with someone who owns a house on a Malibu beach, and who have enough money to buy a beach house themselves.
Say, for example, one film producer steals Brad Pitt off a rival producer’s movie in development--and the first producer owns a house on Broad Beach. The Coastal Commission should encourage the Pitt-less producer to buy a property on Broad--just on the same beach, not necessarily next door--and create an accessway for the commoners. (Of course, this only works if that person doesn’t already have a house on Broad, instead of, say, Carbon). Business partnership gone sour? Open an accessway. Spouse left someone for someone else? Open an accessway. The neighbor’s dog barks all night in Brentwood?--and by chance that neighbor owns a getaway house on Escondido Beach or Las Flores Beach or the Malibu Road beaches? Buy a beach house, open an accessway.
This way, the rest of us will finally enjoy the public access that state laws require. True, gates will close as well as open, as neighbors threaten and appease one another. Yet other gates will open at a rapid pace, until eventually--and here’s the true, dazzling beauty of this strategy--the homeowners will have gotten perfectly accustomed, as they should be already, to sharing the public beaches with the public.
And when that happens, a new accessway will be nothing extraordinary. It will not be a media event. It will bestir no lawyers. I have a dream that one day, a Malibu property owner will open a beach accessway to get back at a neighbor, and the neighbor will shrug and say, “accessway, schmaccessway.” And the Coastal Commission can go about its job of providing public access to these public beaches.