The Press Democrat Sports…
Santa Rosa, California Wednesday, August 7, 1968- Page 37
Today’s comment by… George Hower P.D. Sports Editor
An Issue Which affects Everyone
We don’t have to be a private detective to know what the missus and the children have been up to while we slave over a hot typewriter here at the office. Straw scattered around the garage the other night tipped us off to the fact that they’d been on a hayride at the Russian River. Another time, we found sand from the beach on top of the dashboard of the car of all places. Our usually charming personality failed us that particular time. But, looking back, it was worth it finding the sand there to know they had a chance to go to the beach, or, more accurately, to the ocean, and as long as the kids keep the stuff out of the gas tank, we won’t holler too much. It just occurred to us our family isn’t alone in the neighborhood in enjoying the coast. Walt Clark across the street frequently goes scuba-diving at the coast when he’s not managing his prospering gas station. Wes Brown right next door takes his clan to the coast for a hike around the sand dunes. The third neighbor is Chuck Hinkle. A member of the Sonoma County Reef Runners, Chuck lives for skin-diving forays to the coast, and today’s essay was prompted by a recent visit one evening from Hinkle. Hinkle wanted to get us to do our “homework” on the tug of war involving the public’s right to access to the California coastline, and private development which is sealing the people off from the ocean tidelands. So far, we’ve been remiss in our duty. In a nutshell, this is the situation Chuck wanted told on these pages: The issue is that of public access through Sea Ranch lands in the northwestern coast area. State law says the public owns all land on the California coast below the mean high tide. The fact that the “public owns all land” doesn’t necessarily mean it can get to the land/ The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors this spring approved a zoning change to permit construction of the Sea Ranch development, but turned down sportsmen’s and conservationists’’ pleas that access “corridors” be made available. The Sportsmen and conservationists haven’t given up. They banded together under the acronym, COAAST- Californians Organized to Acquire Access to State Tideline- and are circulating a petition which if they get the necessary 6,000 signature will get an initiative placed on the November ballot. The initiative would create a county ordinance giving officials power to acquire a series of corridors along the Sonoma County coast for public access to the tidelands. We say we’ve been remiss in bringing the matter to your attention because COASST has only eight days left to get the necessary signature and get the petition in. Sea Ranch has been described as a well-planned, conservation-oriented second-home development along the coast. It’s subdivider, Oceanic Properties, gave the Sonoma County a 100-acre plot at the mouth of the Gualala River in return for the assurance the county wouldn’t run access corridors through. They also argue that historically the public never had access across private ranch lands and that public use now would result in violation of privacy essential if Sea Ranch is to succeed. COAAST underscores the argument that, as subdivisions grow, public beach use grows five times as fast as the population and that enjoying beach areas may in the future be a luxury for the idle rich in many cases. One fellow we just talked with recalls it took years before national parks were made accessible and, if access roads were deemed necessary for the national parks, why not the coast. Besides, he reflected, there is “Something basically wrong with the idea” some one can tell another person he can’t enjoy what’s rightfully his. That’s the matter as it stands today. We just toss your way what few facts we can get in this little space. There’ll be more later. The Clarks, Browns, Hinkles-even you- have too much at stake.
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.