SANTA BARBARA — A judge has refused to approve an agreement be­tween coastal officials and the owners of a stretch of Southern California coast­line that would allow very limited access to beaches.

Santa Barbara County Su­perior Court Judge Col­leen Sterne ruled last week that the public’s interest was not fully represented in the agreement over access to the 22-square mile Hol­lister Ranch, where weal­thy homeowners live on houses on a limited num­ber of large lots with stun­ning ocean views, the Los An­gel­es Times reported Monday.

The settlement was signed last year by the Cal­if­ornia State Coastal Con­ser­vancy and the state Coast­al Commission on one side and the Hollister Ranch Owners Association on the other.

It would limit access to those who could boat or padd­le two miles to reach it, to visitors with guides, the ranch’s landowners and their guests.

The ruling does not re­ject the settlement, but establishes a path for foes to have it thrown out. Next steps could include a lawsuit ag­ainst the state for failing to include a public process prior to making this deal with Hollister.

The deal was reached behind closed doors and generated public out­rage last year after the Times published the terms. The outcry became a flash­point in the mounting pres­sure on state officials to en­sure that California’s beach­es are open to ev­er­y­one.

The judge’s decision is a major victory for coastal ad­vo­cates who are calling on officials to fight harder against ranch homeowners and give greater public ac­cess to some of Cal­if­ornia’s most coveted beaches and surf breaks.

Sterne, in her ruling Friday, acknowledged “sub­stan­tial opposition on be­half of the absent but af­fect­ed public interest.”

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.