The Coastal Post - May, 1996

COAST Winning In Battle With Seadrift

BY JOAN REUTINGER

For the better part of this century, all of Stinson Beach, including the Seadrift beach area, was customarily used as a public beach area. Now there are signs on the Seadrift beach areas saying, "Public use of dry beach area not closer than 60 feet from the top of the seawall is permitted for such uses as strolling, birdwatching, fishing, and general viewing. Picnicking is not permitted."

To rectify this issue, COAST was formed. COAST means "Citizens for Open Access to Sand and Tide," and up to this moment, COAST is winning in a lawsuit they filed against Seadrift. On March 13 Seadrift lost their request to the California Court of Appeal, asking that the COAST lawsuit for public access be dismissed.

Seadrift's argument is directly contrary to representations made by their attorneys at public hearings before the Marin County Board of Supervisors. As a result of concerns raised by Supervisors Giacominini, Rose, and Beavis, Seadrift attorney Peter Sandmann assured the Board that COAST, on behalf of historic beach users, had the right to sue for greater use than the compromise agreement called for.

It is interesting to note that the public process was circumvented when the California Coastal Commission, the State Lands Commission, the U.S. Department of the Interior, seven title companies, representatives of the Seadrift property owners, and the Seadrift Association in 1992 met behind closed doors and crafted a settlement agreement which greatly reduces public use of the beach.

On September 2, 1994, COAST filed an implied dedication suit in Marin County Superior Court. The objective is to establish a public recreational easement over the entire sandy beach with uses consistent with the Marin Couny Local Coast Plan, Unit I.

On October 6, 1995, a motion by Seadrift property owners to dismiss the case was denied by Judge Thomas.

On November 30, 1995, Seadrift property owners filed a Writ of Mandanus in the Court of Appeals asking the court to reverse Judge Thomas and order the case dismissed.

On February 21, 1996, COAST's demand for a jury trial was granted regarding the issue of prescriptive easement.

On March 13, 1996, Seadrift lost their request to the California Court of Appeals asking that the COAST lawsuit for public access be dismissed and on April 24, the California Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeals ruling.

The trial date is set for July 11, 1996. COAST requests donations be sent to Box 541, Stinson Beach 94970. Their attorneys have spent hundreds of volunteer hours fighting for COAST's cause. But court costs are mounting. They need help. The Board of Directors of COAST consists of President Malcolm Ponder, Vice President Andrea di Marco, Secretary Cindy Adler, Treasurer Cela O'Connor, Rodger Hurt, Jeanne Sherfey, Don Slack and Mary Turnbill.