Plans to create public access to the beaches on privately-owned land at Hollister Ranch in Santa Barbara County is ongoing, but the pandemic has slowed the process.
All California beaches are public up to the mean tideline but at Hollister Ranch, the public cannot access the 8.5 miles of shoreline by land, except at low tide.
Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation in Oct. 2019 that calls for an updated access plan by April 1, 2021. As a result, officials tasked a committee with resolving long-standing disputes between Hollister Ranch homeowners and state agencies, and finding an equitable solution for opening access to the beaches.
Three public workshops were planned last year, but because of the pandemic, only one took place.
Linda Locklin, the Coastal Access Program Manager for the California Coastal Commission, said the organization had to change the way they did the workshops.
“We switched from the large public workshop to focused listening sessions,” said Locklin.
Locklin said the committee also did three online surveys and collected written comments, but more outreach was needed.
“We really hadn’t heard from north county people, we hadn’t heard from families, we hadn’t heard from the Spanish speaking community, we hadn’t heard directly from the tribes, so we sent them invitations so that they could talk to us in smaller groups,” Locklin said.
The planning committee includes representatives from the California Coastal Commission, Coastal Conservancy, State Parks, and State Lands Commission. Locklin said the committee will not meet the April deadline.
“The executive officers of these four agencies have informed the legislature that we are extending the time and we will, most likely, have a hearing in October,” Locklin said.
State Senator Monique Limón authored the legislation while in the Assembly, and said she is committed to seeing it through. She said under the circumstances, a delay is not surprising.
“Allowing for input from stakeholders is of interest to all of us involved,” Limón said.
When a draft of the plan is ready, Locklin says it will be shared at public hearings.
Find more information about the plan at the California Coastal Comission's website.