NEWPORT BEACH — Residents of a private island in Newport Bay are suing the California Coastal Commission to keep their pedestrian bridge from opening to the public.
The Coastal Commission contends that The Bay Island Club, an association of 24 homeowners on the tiny island by that name, must allow public access to the bridge if the club wants to replace the aging 130-foot span. It's a classic example of the struggle between private landowners and state government, which, since the 1976 passage of the Coastal Act, has aggressively protected the public's access to shorelines and waterways.
The city owns the man-made canal under the bridge, and the Newport Beach City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to support the islanders in court. The island is about halfway down the Balboa Peninsula.
"Yes, it's across public property," said Councilman Don Webb. "But it really has no use other than coming on and off the island."