(CNS): As the Cayman Islands government begins a new focus on addressing the long-standing problems regarding beach access and easement rights to the shore, owners of beachfront property in California have been fined millions of dollars. Beach access rights in Cayman was a hot topic during the last session of the Legislative Assembly, when East End MLA Arden McLean brought a private member’s motion on public rights of way and access to the beaches and the sea, asking government to address the law to protect those rights.
Planning minister Kurt Tibbetts agreed that access rights have been gradually eroded due to inadequate protection and extensive beachfront development over the years. No beachfront property owners have ever been fined in Cayman for blocking access, despite some very deliberate acts to prevent people from getting to the beach and ocean front by some owners.
But some CNS readers believe that government should take a leaf out of the west coast state’s book after the Los Angeles Times reported that two very wealthy Malibu property owners were fined over US$5.1 million for gating off beachfront property and making it hard for the public to reach the water.
The California Coastal Commission fined one couple around $4.2 million for diverting a public easement to private use at an expensive oceanfront rental they own at Las Flores Beach. In a second case, the commissioners settled with the owners of the Malibu Beach Inn at Carbon Beach after they agreed to build two stairways to the sand, install a $425,000 signalized crosswalk near the hotel and pay $200,000 in fines, as well as $300,000 to a local conservation agency.
The penalties are the first that the agency has imposed on property owners for violating beach access provisions, the Times reported. State legislators granted the commission the authority to level fines in 2014.