Skip to comments.THEIR OWN PRIVATE MALIBU: Liberals discover property rights
Posted on 07/17/2002 3:58:46 PM PDT by Senator Pardek
What does it take to get liberals sounding like Ayn Rand in defense of property rights? Having their own property threatened.
That seems to be the lesson of a brewing fight over who gets to enjoy California's beaches. The fight escalated earlier this month when record mogul and huge Democratic Party moneybags David Geffen, along with the city of Malibu, filed suit against the California Coastal Commission (CCC) and other parties over access to the beach across his property.
The state of California controls all beachfront below the mean high-tide line, and tries to keep most of it open for public use. But private property lying between the nearest road and the wild surf sometimes blocks ocean aficionados from frolicking freely. The CCC used to frequently demand that landowners grant easements along property between the road and the sea for public access. This practice was curtailed by the U.S. Supreme Court's 1987 decision in Nollan v. California Coastal Commission, a landmark case restricting government's ability to take private property without compensation.
Easements agreed to before Nollan still must be honored, the CCC maintains. But they first must be adopted by an entity, either public or private, then opened and maintained. Most of them have to be adopted within a 21-year period from the granting.
For many easements in the posh Los Angeles-adjacent beach town of Malibu, that deadline is nearing. Many Californians -- and the national press -- have been abuzz over the ironies of a mostly very wealthy and very liberal enclave suddenly rife with born-again property zealots.
Among the relevant area homeowners with as-yet-unopened easements on or near their property are Mr. Geffen; modern art collector (and contributor to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Dick Gephardt) Eli Broad; TV magnate Haim Saban, funder of Barbara Boxer and a plethora of other Democratic campaigns; and Nancy Daly Riordan, wife of California's failed Republican gubernatorial candidate. Despite her husband's GOP affiliation, Ms. Riordan has supported the Hillary for Senate and Gore for President campaigns. These are not the types you'd expect to defend private property against a public good like beach access. But much depends on whose beach house is gored.
As the CCC tries to open easements before the deadlines, Mr. Geffen has begun the legal fight in earnest. In January, a small organization called Access for All adopted Mr. Geffen's easement. Mr. Geffen and the city of Malibu -- which is upset whenever the CCC's actions interfere with its own plans for the coast -- claim that opening the easement violates Mr. Geffen's rights to his property and to equal protection of the laws. The suit argues that the CCC needs to make access decisions in accord with a coherent statewide plan with environmental and safety impacts considered. The suit uses a Nollan-based argument against enforced access -- an argument that has failed so far in a couple of other cases that are winding their way toward a potential Supreme Court hearing.
Steve Hoye, whose Access for All is one of the parties sued, argues that "technically they haven't got a leg to stand on, but they do have unlimited resources and can drag this out to the next century if they want." Mr. Hoye had been negotiating with Mr. Geffen over his concerns, and feels betrayed by the sudden lawsuit.
Area residents, activists, and lawyers agree that, like Mr. Geffen, most Malibu landowners won't give in on access without a fight. An earlier access lawsuit in the area pits Malibu vs. Malibu. Mr. Broad, Mr. Saban, and Ms. Riordan tried to get out of viewshed requirements on their own property by buying and ceding to the state an 80-foot piece of frontage slightly south on La Costa Beach for public access. The La Costa Beach Homeowners Association sued to prevent opening that property, and won round one. The CCC has appealed.
Jody Cukier Siegler, president of the La Costa Beach Homeowners Association, notes the irony of Democrats who suddenly love property rights. "There are a lot of big Democratic contributors and Democrats in spirit here, and for us to be accused of being right-wing property rights Republicans is very funny." But she notes that if it were "low-income housing people" being pushed around by government, "then property rights would be a leftist cause."
Sure, there's something unprincipled about people who in their public lives enthusiastically support environmental and political causes that frequently value state power over property rights suddenly screaming, "This land is my land." But Mr. Geffen and his neighbors have a good case. Property owners should hang together on principle. If not, we will all find the government ordering us to let people cut across our land -- whether actually or metaphorically -- to serve some sort of presumed public good.
Damn, I was hoping for something witty to come out.
I just saw a story on this on the Fox Report. I hate siding with the liberals, but I think they have a point. I just find there to be something quite fun though in watching them get what they have foistered on the rest of us, with their efforts, for years.
[He] was a free man in Paris / [He] felt unfettered and alive...
Goldberg surmises they have some latent guilt about their success. I think they're just hypocrites who want to tell others how they should live and think, but won't tolerate anyone dictating the same to them.
One good example in the book is a conversation Goldberg had with a TV executive. The executive expressed a wish to hire more minorities in the upper levels of TV production. Goldberg suggested that the executive could resign his own position with the stipulation that a minority be hired in his place. He responded with a contemptuous chuckle.
You're not siding with liberals, they're siding with you. Consider it a small victory.
Perhaps, in exchange for some hefty donations to some property rights groups, the easements could be un-adopted.
And you are wasting that kind of brain-power on liberals because.....?
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