Advertisement

Beachfront dispute goes to Court of Appeal

State agency wants privately-owned picnic spot by CdM State Beach dismantled.

February 18, 2010|By Brianna Bailey

After a six-year legal battle with the California Coastal Commission, the fate of a retired Corona del Mar couple’s beachfront picnic spot and thatched palapa lies with the Fourth District Court of Appeal.

A Santa Ana courthouse was packed with supporters of Ocean Boulevard residents George and Sharlee McNamee on Thursday as a three-judge panel heard oral arguments in the couple’s case, which has grown from a squabble over a barbecue and some picnic tables into a fight between the rights of private property owners versus the public’s access to the beach.

“I’d really loose a lot of respect for the court if they rule against them,” said Hank Reuter, 14, the McNamee’s grandson, who attended the hearing with his family, wearing his Boy Scout uniform.

Advertisement

“It should be up to you what you want to do with your private property,” Hank said, who added that he has attended family get-togethers at his grandparents’ private piece of beach for as far back as he can remember.

The Coastal Commission ordered the McNamee to tear down their beach oasis in 2004. Set on a private portion of beach at the base of a cliff above Corona del Mar State Beach, the McNamee’s patch of sand includes two picnic tables; a shower and bathroom; storage lockers; a built-in barbecue; palapa and some flowering plants. The commission ruled that the amenities are not a coastal development and that the improvements mislead beachgoers into thinking that the entire beach is private.

“The Coastal Commission wants them to essentially convert their private backyard into a nature preserve,” Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Paul Beard argued on the McNamee’s behalf on Thursday. A conservative property rights group, Pacific Legal has taken up the McNamee’s case and is representing the couple in their appeal.

“This is in contempt of the McNamee’s right to the use of their backyard,” Beard said.

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles
|
|
|