The California Coastal Commission and 18 homeowners in the Malibu Colony are headed to court over public access to the beach at the oceanfront enclave, which is home to scores of movie stars and show business moguls.
Both sides have formally given up on negotiating an out-of-court settlement and a lawsuit filed by the residents in Los Angeles County Superior Court will be reactivated, said Peter Douglas, the commission's executive director.
The lawyer representing the state, Assistant Atty. Gen. Jamie Patterson, said she expects hearings to begin in April or May.
The argument dates back to the severe rains of 1982, which prompted the 18 to ask for permission to build a wood bulkhead to keep storm-driven waves from battering their homes. The commission granted the permit on the condition that residents dedicate part of their beach for public use.
The colony homeowners chose to sue--challenging the constitutionality of the coastal access requirement--rather than give up their privacy. The unsuccessful effort to reach a compromise lasted more than a year, with the residents rejecting the most recent proposal in September.
The homeowners' attorney, Sherman Stacy, confirmed that talks have broken off and said his clients have instructed him not to comment further.