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Millionaires in California have taken matters into their own hands and decided to build a green fence along a public beach walkway to keep visitors away – even as they are slapped with $5million in fines for the move. 

The most recent fight over the 800ft walkway started in December when the Coastal Commission slapped the homeowners with fines for trying to block off the walkway with makeshift materials such as netting, cones and traffic medians. 

In response, the homeowners decided to sue the commission as a judge ruled the county had to pay the homeowners $3.7million in legal fees and damages for the years-long fight, but the county appealed the decision.  

Barry Scott, a resident from Aptos who has been advocating against the fence told the San Francisco Chronicle: ‘We want to be the nice place people want to come and visit, not a place with fences.’ 

Many locals have deemed the condition of the narrow, blocked walkway as unsafe. However, homeowners who reside in the homes worth $2million to $5million have argued the path acts as their backyard patios. 

Millionaires in Santa Cruz, California, decided to build a new green fence along the walkway to restrict public access. The homeowners have been feuding with other local residents, the county and the Coastal Commission about the issue for decades

In December, the Coastal Commission slapped homeowners with more than $5million in fines for trying to block off the walkway with makeshift materials such as netting, cones and traffic medians

In December, the Coastal Commission slapped homeowners with more than $5million in fines for trying to block off the walkway with makeshift materials such as netting, cones and traffic medians

‘It sends a broader message that the coast is available to a select few, either those that are well resourced or those that don’t have mobility challenges,’ Santa Cruz County Supervisor Zach Friend said.

With uneven pavement, trash cans blocking the path, and cars parked against the curb, Friend, who represents the town of Aptos, said the beach walkway ‘was constantly obstructed by homeowners.’ 

The county has vigorously fought back against the homeowners and said they consider the path behind the homes a ‘public easement’ that ‘the public shall have the right to use as a walkway.’ 

In response, angry homeowners have said they are the ones who built the seawall and pathway to protect their beach houses. 

The general fight between homeowners and beachgoers dates to the 1980s when severe storms damaged a retaining wall between the coastal homes and Seacliff State Beach, and led to the creation of the Rio Del Mar Beach Island Homeowners Association. 

In 2018, a group of homeowners decided to file a lawsuit to try and resolve the decade-long debate, but the county fought back and instead tore down the barrier installed at the time.

In response to the newly built fence, the association told KSBW: ‘The alleged County boardwalk, as the Coastal Commission staff wrongly described the private patio areas in front of each home, was determined by the County of Santa Cruz Superior Court in late 2022 to be privately owned and the Court also authorized the homeowner association to erect the temporary fencing pending any appeals.’ 

‘The Court considered 90 years of documents, extensive historical evidence and the County’s decades of disinterest in making public improvements given uncertainty over title to the area, while the Commission clearly failed to review or ignored most of these critical facts.’ 

Barry Scott, a resident from Aptos who has been advocating against the fence

Santa Cruz County Supervisor Zach Friend

Barry Scott (left), a resident from Aptos who has been advocating against the fence, along with Santa Cruz County Supervisor Zach Friend (right) 

As the feud continues, the beachfront homeowners have faced off with other residents, the Coastal Commission and Santa Cruz County in court and on social media. (Pictured: A collage of photos showing the building progress of the fence)

As the feud continues, the beachfront homeowners have faced off with other residents, the Coastal Commission and Santa Cruz County in court and on social media. (Pictured: A collage of photos showing the building progress of the fence) 

As the feud continues, the beachfront homeowners have faced off with other residents, the Coastal Commission and Santa Cruz County in court and on social media. 

Vivan Neasham, who lives along Beach Drive year-round in a home that her husband built told Lookout Santa Cruz that she would be fine with the public having access the the walkway as long as skateboards, e-biking and extensive hanging out would be restricted. 

Another resident, Vaudagna, told the San Francisco Chronicle that prior to the fence, she was often interrupted by ‘a thousand people a day’ along the path. 

Vaudagna recalled an instance in 2018 when an elderly homeowner was left beaten by a group of teens after he asked them to get off of his patio. 

Since the green fence has gone up, Vaudagna said she feels ‘safer’ with fewer people accessing the walkway.  

Greg Poncetta, the president of the homeowners association. told the San Francisco Chronicle his home was previously broken into before the fence went up.  

He has expressed that he does not have an issue with the public having a walkway to use, but that he would prefer is it didn’t have to be shared with his backyard area. 

‘It’s crazy. The reason we are all here is because we all love the beach and love to be able to spend time here,’ Poncetta said. 

Mike Maffei, who has lived in Aptos for 50 years, said that he is angry with the commission. 

The walkway 'was constantly obstructed by homeowners' with uneven pavement, trash cans blocking the path, and cars parked against the curb, officials said. (Pictured: Cars parked against the curb and an array of trash cans on the path)

The walkway ‘was constantly obstructed by homeowners’ with uneven pavement, trash cans blocking the path, and cars parked against the curb, officials said. (Pictured: Cars parked against the curb and an array of trash cans on the path) 

It is unclear what the next steps are in the ongoing fight for access to the walkway but is slated to be discussed at the next Costal Commission meeting in Sacramento in March

It is unclear what the next steps are in the ongoing fight for access to the walkway but is slated to be discussed at the next Costal Commission meeting in Sacramento in March

‘Where is the costal commission saying, “Hey, let’s defend this piece of property?” They has enough money to build it; they’ve been taking in money, so why don’t they have enough money to maintain it,’ Maffei said. 

John Hopkins, another long-time Aptos resident told KSBW: ‘I feel for the people that own the homes, but you can’t fence off an area that’s public.’ 

Annalena Norman, another local resident, said that she is worried about the fence has had on handicapped individuals who already have a hard time enjoying the beach. 

‘They needed to open it up to handicapped people and people with stroller access. I don’t like it,’ she said. 

It is unclear what the next steps are in the ongoing fight for access to the walkway, but Santa Cruz County Supervisor Justin Cummings said he hopes it will be resolved soon. 

‘It was agreed upon in terms of the homeowners association providing costal access,’ Cummings, who also serves on the Costal Commission told KSBW. 

‘It’s just one of those things where we’re trying to ensure everyone’s in compliance. The Coastal Commission has been made aware of what’s happened and we’re hoping we can resolve the situation,’ he added. 

The next Costal Commission meeting is set to take place in Sacramento in March where Cummings said the issue will be discussed.   

#Millionaires #squabble #city #public #beach #walkway #erect #fence #visitors #mansions #rack #5MILLION #fines

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