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Court to decide fate of Newport Beach couple's beachfront picnic spot

February 21, 2010 |  8:14 am

After a six-year legal battle with the California Coastal Commission, the fate of a retired Corona del Mar couple’s beachfront picnic spot and thatched palapa lies with California's 4th District Court of Appeal.

A Santa Ana courthouse was packed with supporters of Ocean Boulevard residents George and Sharlee McNamee on Thursday as a three-judge panel heard arguments in the couple’s case, which has grown from a squabble over a barbecue and some picnic tables into a fight between the rights of private property owners versus the public’s access to the beach.

“I’d really lose a lot of respect for the court if they rule against them,” said Hank Reuter, 14, the McNamees' grandson, who attended the hearing with his family, wearing his Boy Scout uniform. “It should be up to you what you want to do with your private property."

The Coastal Commission ordered the McNamees to tear down their beach oasis in 2004. Set on a private portion of beach at the base of a cliff above Corona del Mar State Beach, the McNamees’ patch of sand includes two picnic tables, a shower and bathroom, storage lockers, a built-in barbecue, palapa and some flowering plants. The commission ruled that the amenities are not a coastal development and that the improvements mislead beachgoers into thinking that the entire beach is private.

Read the full story here.

-- Brianna Bailey, from the Daily Pilot