Argus-Courier Jan. 11, 1969
Coast Access Debate
By Del Miller
Santa Rosa- The problem of public entry to coast waters isn’t peculiar to California, the Ad Hoc Committee on Tidal Access was told this week as it gathered ammunition for a general debate next Friday. Oregonians are asking access every three miles along the coast after having been denied use of a beach by a motel, staff member George Kovatch told Thursday’s committee meeting. Maine is demanding the right of access for fishermen, he said. British Columbia and Hawaii are working to protect public use of tideland. Lucky Florida has no problem because the coastal terrain guarantees natural access. The Ad Hoc committee was formed by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors after a bitterly fought proposal to require subdividers to provide access rights at mile intervals went down to defeat last November. Some opponents argued the proposal was too rigid, created an undue hardship on existing property owners, and set up a costly system of closely spaced parallel public roads. Porponents said it applied only to lands withdrawn from agriculture, set up a system of trails, not roads, and provided that natural arroyos be used for the rights of way – not valuable land suitable for development. The proposition also would have held up permission granted by the supervisors to Sea Ranch developers to block off the coast the length of their estate-development in exchange for land suitable for a coast-river park. The board asked the committee to tackle the problem of what methods should be used in guaranteeing access, if any, to tidelands reserved to the public by law, and to gather all facts and viewpoints, including those of landowners. George Charles, a committeeman who, with his family, have been landowners in West Sonoma for three generations, undertook a landowner survey. He said he had time to contact only a few landowners, and these were between Jenner and Fort Ross. Charles found that Sonoma County Coast Associated, four owners, allow access to their strip of coast without charge from Jenner to Russian Gulch, although one gate is kept locked because of fire hazard. Charles, Black and Eckert, he said, charge $1.25 a car. Carols Call of Fort Ross was quoted as saying his charges didn’t cover liability insurance premiums. Charles said landowners he had contacted wanted subdivision prices if forced to sell to which many have a long attachment. “Did they comment on the fact that Proposition B (the defeated Sonoma County access measure) would have excluded agriculture (from access road provisions)?” committeeman William Kortum asked. “I didn’t ask,” Charles replied, “but they want to be free to deal with tract purchasers and object to corridors because they would cut up prime land.” “Even though corridors would not occupy prime land?” Kortum asked “We did not discuss Proposition B,” Charles reiterated. “They fear the operation of eminent domain proceedings.” “Even paid access is no threatened, and that is why we are here,” Kortum observed. “What do the landowners see as the county role?” “Relaxation of strict requirements for sanitation facilities for public use of the land,” Charles suggested. “Would the owners like to see the land remain open and preserve
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Coast Access (continued from Page 1)
Its natural beauty, or are they anxious to sell? Kortum asked. “Taxes and age will force the sale eventually,” Charles said, “But they would like to see it stay in its natural state until that time.” Chairman A.E. Galli asked how many landowners had applied for Agricultural Preserve status. A planning commission representatives said “Hardly any.” “Some are willing to sell for a price,” Charles said,” and some bought to sell.” “There are many ideas here, Galli remarked, “We must come up with a plan.” The voters didn’t appear to discard all points of coast access,” Kortum said fererring again to the defeat of Proposition B. “Perhaps it should be reworded. We are dealing with geographic variables, yet stringent words must set the measure of access.” “Then we must set out new points.” said Galli. “Agriculture was never involved,” Kortum insisted. “Land in its natural state enhance the beauty of the coast. “It is the fact that there are going to be corridors in future development that is wrong,” Charles said. “In Santa Cruz County it was felt that natural arroyos would provide suitable access,” Kortum said. “That is only in the general plan,” Kovatch reminded him. “It is not an ordinance.” “Bordered trails blended into the landscape should not offend anyone,” Kortum insisted “The number of accesses is negotiable. The intent should be to keep an open coast. “Do you feel the entire coast line should be open?” Kovatch asked. “Yes, without qualification,” said Kortum. “The entire coast must be open for proper management of natural resources.” “I can’t figure a need for coast control of bluffs,” Kovatch responded. “Scenery is just as important as marine life,” Kortum replied. At this point Galli said the whole question would be debated next Friday. Staff member Joseph D. Rodota distributed a report on available federal or state matching funds to assist in acquiring coast lands as suggested by Committeeman Joseph McClelland.
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