Hollister Ranch poised to give boat-only public access in designated area

The secluded beaches have long been controlled by wealthy homeowners

(Credit: Pixabay, Max Pixel)
(Credit: Pixabay, Max Pixel)

Beach access is coming under fire again and, this time, the waves of controversy caught coastal advocates off-guard.

In the decades-long battle for public access to Hollister Ranch, a secluded 8.5 mile stretch of beaches near Santa Barbara, wealthy homeowners and, on the other side of the table, the California State Coastal Conservancy and the state Coastal Commission, quietly reached a settlement, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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The agreement will give the public access to under a mile of shoreline, but only by water, meaning that visitors must arrive “via surfboard, paddleboard, kayak or soft-bottom boat.” The closest departure point to arrive at the beach is two miles away in Gaviota State Park. A judge has given the public has until late July to weigh in on the settlement.

News of the settlement comes as billionaire Vinod Khosla is challenging the constitutionality of California’s Coastal Act, which established beach access as a fundamental right. [Los Angeles Times]Erin Hudson