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Beach Access

October 01, 1995

* Your zeal to create coastal access ("Waking Up About Beach Access," editorial, Sept. 24) needs to be tempered by the acknowledgment that coastal property owners were illegally coerced into "offering to dedicate" portions of their property to the public. Thus far, your coverage has consisted of a lengthy article (Sept. 3), devoted mostly to documenting the number of "offers" still unaccepted, two editorials urging speedier acceptance of those offers, and letters (Sept. 15 and 24), including one from a Sierra Club official asking for public help in opening more access ways.

When the U.S. Supreme Court examined the means by which the Coastal Commission acquired one of those "offers to dedicate," the court concluded that the offer had been acquired by "extortion" and was invalid. The question which neither you, nor the Sierra Club, nor the Coastal Commission wants to face is whether our state government ought to be enforcing agreements obtained by extortion. The state should acknowledge the invalidity of its former actions and release those ill-gotten offers, rather than throwing its weight around and bullying private citizens into giving away their property. The court explained that the proper way to accomplish the state's goal is to buy what it needs, not grab it.

MICHAEL M. BERGER

Santa Monica

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