There are two ways to get to Martin’s Beach: Legally, or illegally.
To give some context to the issue: Martin’s Beach is a gorgeous little hideaway beach, unaccessible except by boat or by private, paved road that is currently locked and in the middle of a pretty little lawsuit. A Trillionaire bought the land (and thus, the paved road) that surrounds Martin’s Beach a few years back and effectively shut it down to the general public by installing a gate to which one must have a remote or code to open. This didn’t change the fact that the beach, like all California Coastline beaches, is public. Ohhhhhh the panties that are now in a bunch…!!
Now add a little flare to the mess: The beach itself has at least two dozen homes that are currently on a 100-year lease from the original owner many, many moons ago. Meaning, the people who DO have the code or the remote to the gate still live there, still have vacation homes there, still visit to enjoy their hideaway until their lease is up here in a few more years and Mr. Trillionaire can do what he wants with everything there. So, private homeowners along this beach are likely pleased with the gated road, as this means no drunk college kids can light their bonfires and leave their trash and break into homes. I think most homeowners would agree that a gated community is a nice thing. This is what happened with Martin’s Beach, much to the public’s dismay.
I pass this Beach almost daily to do my errands and work, so I often see the protesters, the News Vans with their TV Reporters, and of course the Naked Surfers stripping out of their wetsuits by their car. Because, the surfers are part of the protesters who climb around the gated fence and walk down to the road to surf at the beach. Nosy by nature, I wanted in on this action. But even though it’s one of my Bucket List items to Protest something, I really don’t know if I care that much about Martin’s Beach. I’m told I should. Because if One Trillionaire can lock up a beach, who’s to say the next Trillionaire won’t do the same? And then before you know it, I’m all out of public beach.
But, back to my personal, escorted visit to Martin’s Beach:
I have a friend, Lillian, who is native to the Coastside. So native that her grandfather was one of the original purchasers/leasee’s of Martin’s Beach and her family built a Beach house amongst the others. We met up last Sunday morning for Tea and then she drove us over to walk the private community. I felt a little investigative reporter myself, having this “insider” fill me in on everything about the beach and it’s current legal battle. I asked a million questions as we strolled along the two rows of homes. Lillian has many memories of the little Frozen Yogurt & Deli store, can remember when the “shark tooth” was much bigger, was able to name neighbors, give a general history of the land ownership and pointed out her own grandfather painted into the mural leading down to the water. I felt for Lillian’s family, who had only the fondest, sweetest memories of this place and don’t want to see it the way it is. I didn’t want to see it the way it was.
It was sad, really. Even though I wish it was my own family history tied up in this Beach, I personally walked away feeling like it wasn’t right for the public to try and take ownership, try to open up what I saw as a private place. Equally so, it sucks for families like Lillian’s to have to walk away from it in a few short years when the lease is up. What a mess. With no good resolution in the end.