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LAist Interview: Daniel Olivas

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Daniel Olivas is a writer and Deputy Attorney General with the California Department of Justice in Los Angeles. He was the lead counsel representing the California Coastal Commission and the State Coastal Conservancy in litigation regarding coastal access to the beach in front of David Geffen's property in Malibu.

Dan is also the author of a novella, two short-story collections and a children's picture book. He also writes book reviews for several Los Angeles publications and blogs.
Age and Occupation:

Forty-six. I’m a Deputy Attorney General with the California Department of Justice in Los Angeles and a writer.

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How long have you lived in Los Angeles, and which neighborhood do you live in?:

I was born in Temple Hospital, on Hoover St., Los Angeles. I don’t know if it’s still there. I lived near the Pico-Union and Koreatown neighborhoods (near the intersections of Pico and Western) from birth to the beginning of law school at UCLA. While in law school, I lived in Santa Monica. I met my wife, Sue Formaker, in law school. We continued to live in Santa Monica after graduation until 1989 when we moved to the San Fernando Valley (West Hills) and bought our first house. Sue got pregnant during escrow resulting in our son, Benjamin, who is 15.

Why do you choose to live in Los Angeles?

I love L.A.! It’s home and most of our family lives here. It has great open spaces (beaches, parks, mountains and hills), remarkable weather, all kinds of people of every description not to mention the museums, bookstores, etc.

You were the lawyer on the case involving public access to the beach outside David Geffen’s house in Malibu. How long did it take to gain access?

I’m lead counsel representing the California Coastal Commission and the State Coastal Conservancy in the litigation. Mr. Geffen filed suit on July 3, 2002, challenging the access conditions of his three coastal development permits. We litigated until April 2005 when, after we succeeded in knocking out most of his claims, he turned over the key to our co-defendant, Access for All, the non-profit that is now running the access way from PCH to the sand at Carbon Beach, Malibu. Mr. Geffen formally dismissed his suit in July though we’re still trying to hammer out a formal settlement agreement.

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When did you take a celebratory swim on that section of the beach? What did you wear?

I attended a very small and respectful ribbon cutting where I wore jeans and a Hawaiian shirt. It was overcast and I was a bit under the weather (no pun intended) so swimming was definitely out of the question.

You also write books. How do you have time for practicing law and writing?

I don’t golf.

What is the Los Angeles Bar [community of lawyers who practice in Los Angeles] like?

We wear fancy ties.