Does the public have a right to use Shelter Cove in Pacifica?
Copyright © 2002-2005 Kenneth & Gabrielle Adelman, California Coastal Records Project.
Shelter Cove, just south of Linda Mar, was a popular public bathing spot in Pacifica for decades. Lately, it has been blocked by "No Trespassing" signs. Pacificans have been tracing the history of the spot to prove to the Coastal Commission that it has historically been a public access point to the coast. Pacifica Riptide has a page devoted to the history of the use of the spot.
The County Times is reporting that the public may be entitled to access to the beach after all.
Under California law, all beaches are actually public property — but only to the mean high tide line, which usually means the wet area of a beach. The law is primarily meant to protect boaters who pull up on beaches, but also applies to swimmers and people walking in that area. Adding a public easement to a beach means ensuring public access to it, in this case along a pathway into Shelter Cove.
Lizelle Saure, a Shelter Cove resident for over four years, says people regularly visit the beach on weekends and are often told to leave.
"They litter, they chase the birds. On sunny days, it happens all the time," she said.
The steep pathway residents use to get to their homes is the same roadway cars used to take to get to the beach in the 1930s and 1940s, but it is washed out and is difficult to walk on.
"We’d be so endangered by having people on our paths at night," Saure said.
If the Coastal Commission staff finds there is enough evidence to warrant a legal case, it won’t begin for at least a year. Only after it gets a ruling from a judge, can the Commission negotiate with the land’s owner.
You can read about beach access rights on the Coastal Commission’s website. Be sure to read Julia Scott’s excellent story at the County Times site for the full details.