California to consider buying back private beachfront properties

Originally published at: California to consider buying back private beachfront properties | Boing Boing


Rich People: the cause of so many of life’s problems and the solution to none of them.


I hope this plan also addresses the problem of rich people employing all kinds of sneaky tricks to keep the public from accessing “private” beaches that legally belong to everyone.


The goal would then be to rent those properties out, either to the original homeowner or someone else, and use that money to pay off the loan until the property is no longer safe to live in.

So it’s still “only rich people get to enjoy the beach?”


I grew up in Massachusetts where it’s not uncommon for people to own land as far as the low tide mark. These people literally own the beach. Where there is a ‘public’ beach it is the custom of the various towns to give permits to town residents only and/or enforce punitive parking rules near beach access. The truly public beaches are of course more crowded. I feel no need to bail out these resource hogs after the next Atlantic storm. They should all be bought out, too. I like the plan.


This is actually a point of confusion. I thought a big part of the “rich people in California falsely ‘privatizing’ beaches” was that all beaches in CA were public property, your property always ends at the dunes, or was that just certain townships/cities? Doesn’t the state already own all the beach?


“I wonder if many of these properties are even paying meaningful property taxes. In 1970’s California a scheme was created whereby property taxes barely increase over time, leaving long-time homeowners paying far below what the market will demand if they sell their home.”

Why wonder? Property tax and property sales are open and public records.

Just look rather than make insinuations. Beach front properties have a tendency to change hands among the famous somewhat often. But that’s chicken feed. If you’re REALLY concerned about “that law” (proposition 13 passed in 1978), look into the way commercial real estate has exploited it with multiple partial sales that do not trigger reassessments.

There WAS a measure on the ballot in 2020 that would have corrected the issue, but it failed.


Legally yes. Functionally that doesn’t matter as long as rich people can make them inaccessible or hire private security guards to shoo away anyone that tries to use them.


I think it’s 50 ft above high tide but access to that area is an issue - you have to cross private land to get there.


The public is allowed to use any beach below the median high tide mark. Access to the beach, however, becomes a problem where people are giant assholes.

Like this jerk in Sausalito: Sausalito beach confrontation prompts racial demonstration


Uh… Actually, in California no.

There is a billionaire who attempted to block access to beach front property south of San Francisco, but so far the courts all the way to the California supreme court have held that the laws grants the public access to the beaches over ride his “property rights”.


In Oregon, fighting sea encroachments is forbidden. If a beachfront house is in danger of being destroyed, the homeowner must eat the loss.


Still can’t afford to live there. How about some affordable beach-front housing?


Of course there’s a big difference between how the courts rule and what the Billionaires actually do in response to those rulings.

In practical terms, Vinod Khosla has been quite successful in restricting access to that beach since 2008. Put up enough barriers and threaten enough beachgoers and most people will find some other place to go rather than spending the time and energy to fight for their right to stay (assuming they even know their rights).


The law is clear, so when the courts get involved, the public wins. The problem is all of the little cases where the courts don’t get involved - illegal gates, misleading signs, hostile property owners, etc. A few years back there was a lot of news about this kind of thing in Malibu. The state’s official map of Malibu beaches even includes a section on “Security Guards” that advises “Carry easement maps when using dry-sand easements. A copy of the CA Coastal Act is not necessary but can be useful.”


If there’s meaningful enforcement of the court rulings, which is a big-ass “if.”

Very few jurisdictions make “holding Billionaires accountable to the letter and spirit of the law” a priority, especially when it’s a case of Billionaires vs. the kinds of poor people cops tend to harass on general principle.


I guess when we all laughed at idiots like Ben Shapiro who, instead of accepting the seriousness of sea level rise, just said, “oh, they’ll just sell their houses, done and done”, the joke was on us. They really will have no problem going from having stupidly expensive houses on rapidly deteriorating beachfront to having stupidly expensive houses elsewhere. Because the rich don’t pay.


This looks to me like a scheme to pay rich people for their now valueless properties, out of the pockets of everyone else. The rich carry on and go somewhere else to look down on the poors. The core functioning principle of North American political economy is ‘they get to keep the loot’.

Much better to just forbid public funds being used to protect private properties from predictable ecological impacts (climate change is not a new concept). When/if the properties crash in value, then buy them. Or let the rich folks keep their rich places and fix them up themselves.


I solved a few of those issues with a saws-all and about fifty metal blades. In the end justice was done.


What an appalling proposal. I’m perfectly happy to require that an owner of a beachfront property take out a bond or other insurance to clean up the site if the property should fall into the ocean, but simply taking the property so the state can be the landlord instead of the current owners so the state can “make a profit” to get to the same end is just fucked up.