Malibu Beach Notes: the good, the bad, the ugly

signsCrop.jpgJust in time for summer—the public-ification of Carbon (Billionaires) Beach, the destruction of Broad Beach, and the LA Urban Rangers safaris (announcement below) to see it all happening:


Hooray for the Coastal Commission, which is about to post user-friendly public-easement maps for Carbon Beach on its website (click the “maps” link—they’ll be there "soon, very soon"--we trust in time for July 4).

We all know we can use the wet sand on the Malibu beaches that are partly private. However, the locations—not to mention the existence--of the many hundreds of dry-sand public easements has long been one of Malibu’s best-kept secrets. The majority of houses on Carbon Beach—a long gorgeous beach just west of the Malibu pier—boast nice big public easements, which have just been waiting for the public to figure out where they are. Go. Sprawl. Enjoy. (Enter the beach at the accessways at 22126 and 22706 PCH.)


While you’re on the website, you can download the maps for Broad Beach—the only other Malibu beach for which easement maps are available—but they won’t do you much good.

Broad is the infamous beach where, in 2005—remember?—the homeowners bulldozed tons of sand out of the public tideland, and used it to extend the private dry-sand dune in front of their houses 25 feet farther toward the ocean. The Coastal Commission had them de-bulldoze it almost immediately, but the beach has never been the same, as the restoration left the dune a bit higher and the sea floor lower than they had been before.

Three years since, the steady erosion against the dune has created a ~6-20-ft. jagged private cliff, towering above a small remnant strip of public beach that’s regularly covered at high tide. To use the dry-sand easements, you’ll have to scale that cliff--which is pocked with illegal sandbags, rockwork, and old irrigation pipes. Many of the homeowners can’t even get down the cliff to their own beach (at least now they know how we feel....). In sum, the erosion has turned one of Malibu’s most accessible and beautiful beaches—and my personal favorite—into a private fortress and an ugly unholy mess. Go. Gape. Take your rappelling and scuba gear.

THE UGLY: see “the Bad,” above.


SUMMER 2008 SCHEDULE--for those who want a bit of help with how to use the Malibu public beaches:

logoLAUR.jpgThe "Malibu Public Beaches" safaris show you how to find, park, walk, picnic, and sunbathe on a Malibu beach legally and safely. Each safari visits two different beaches. Skills-enhancing activities include a public-private boundary hike, sign watching, a no-kill hunt for accessways, and a public easement potluck.

SAT June 14, 11:00am-2:30pm (East Malibu)
SUN June 15, 11:00am-2:30pm (West Malibu)
SUN July 27, 9:00am-12:30pm (East Malibu)
SAT Aug 2, 3:00pm-6:30pm (West Malibu)
SUN Aug 3, 3:00pm-6:30pm (East Malibu)

Safaris are free. Spaces are limited. To sign up, e-mail w/name, # of people and preferred date. For further information on the safaris and the Los Angeles Urban Rangers, please visit

A downloadable "Malibu Public Beaches" guide is available on our website.

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