Judge strikes down city law restricting access to Dana Point beach
In a ruling last week, San Diego County Superior Court Judge Joan M. Lewis said the city was “entirely lacking in evidentiary support for declaring a nuisance and that the City acted arbitrarily and capriciously” when it posted 8-to-5 p.m. hours and erected locked gates to pathways through the oceanfront development known as the Strand at Headlands.
The city supported closing the paths with “pure speculation,” Lewis wrote, including police reports from before the pathways were opened to the public and law enforcement's fears that taking down the fences and signs would “turn the Headlands development basically into an amusement park” where there would be “teenage drinking, teenage smoking, sex parties, sex, drugs and rock and roll…”
The city put up the gates and hours a year and a half ago after the lots below began selling for as much as $12 million. The Dana Point City Council later approved a nuisance abatement ordinance that ordered the nighttime closure of trails to the beach because of what officials said was an increase in crime nearby.
The decision puts the issue back in the hands of the Coastal Commission, meaning the city will have to apply for a permit for the signs and gates. The panel approved the 121-acre project in 2004 after a decades-long fight between conservationists and the developer.
Caption: Surfers walk near a Dana Point housing development. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times