Off-limits strip of Orange County beach now open to public
On Saturday morning, Huntington Beach will add a few more yards to its array of world-famous beaches.
However, they won't much resemble the sandy paradise that Jan and Dean immortalized in song — not yet, anyway.
The strip of shore, which runs alongside the Huntington Harbour Bay Club and faces a marina in the harbor, looks more suited for rugged camping than catching a wave. The hard ground is pocked with rodent holes and gravel, and an expanse of dried vegetation stretches out behind green pickleweed that has sprouted up alongside the water.
"It's not what I would call ideal," said Orange County Coastkeeper staff attorney Colin Kelly, whose group recently took charge of public access to the property. "It's not a beach that I would take a visitor to. But it's a good piece of property for transport, meaning if you want to jump in your kayak and want a place to launch it, that would be a good place to do that."
Coastkeeper, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting pollution and protecting marine habitats, plans to celebrate the reopening of public access to the beach Saturday. The land, though privately owned, is available to the public through an agreement with the state.
At 9 a.m., Coastkeeper officials plan a short ceremony, while a paddleboard meet-up group is expected to paddle in to symbolize the area's availability for kayaking, paddling, fishing and other activities.
In 1988, when the California Coastal Commission approved a development permit for property owner Ben Ahadpour, it mandated that he offer public access to the beach — also known as an easement — if anyone requested it in the next 21 years. The California State Coastal Conservancy asked Coastkeeper in 2009 to take over public access.
Ahadpour, who also owns the Bay Club at 4121 Warner Ave. and its neighboring marina along with his family, did little with the beach over the last two decades beyond cleaning it. The 21-year time period had nearly run out when Coastkeeper took over the land; otherwise, the possibility of public access might have been lost.
Ahadpour, who hosts weddings and other private events in the Bay Club, said he had no objection to the easement.
"I've never had a problem with the public using it," he said. "The only reason it wasn't is because no one accepted the offer."
-- Michael Miller, Times Community News.
Photo: A small strip of beach owned by Huntington Harbour Bay Club owner Ben Ahadpour is set to open to the public Saturday. Credit: Scott Smeltzer / Times Community News