People who live along the shimmering coastline of Southern California have found many creative ways over the years to discourage the public from using the parts of the beach they would prefer to consider their own. They have put up gates that block public access and have taken down signs that say "public welcome."
The latest gambit, by residents in Newport Beach, involves planting lawns and hedges, installing sprinkler systems and fire pits, and plopping down furniture and ornaments that spill over from their property onto the public beach.
Newport Beach is a city beach. Residents don't own anything beyond their property lines. Yet dozens of them have added landscaping that extends too far and essentially privatizes a chunk of public area, intimidating beachgoers from traipsing across land they have every right to enjoy.
City officials warned residents in 2006 about lawns creeping beyond property lines, but the issue remained unresolved. This year, the Coastal Commission sent out warning letters to the worst offenders, whose plantings and pavers extend as much as 30 and 40 feet onto the beach. The homeowners have not exactly rushed to comply. Some say they'll hire lawyers to fight the orders. Really? On what grounds?