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Stairway Finally Allows Public Access To Malibu Beach After 20 Years

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For the first time in many years, a scenic staircase will allow public access to a beautiful part of Malibu's coast. The stairway at 24038 Malibu Road leads 30 feet down a bluff to Malibu Colony Beach, according to KPCC. While certainly pretty, visitors should know there are only a few parking spaces, no restrooms and you are not allowed to barbecue. But, this section of the beach will work for a short surf, run, stroll or picnic at low tide.

According to a release from the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA), you'll be able to travel about one mile along the Amarillo and Malibu Colony beaches at low tide. Prior to the construction of the stairway, surfers and adventurous beach-goers would climb down boulders to get to the waves.

Linda Locklin, the Coastal Access Program Manager with the California Coastal Commission, tells LAist that she has been working on this access point for over 20 years.

"As you probably know, opening any new access ways is a challenge, especially in Malibu," she says.

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In this particular instance, the Coastal Commission approved the expansion of a mobile home park five miles away under the condition that the beach lot would be offered to the state of California. The state did not accept the legal transfer until 2002. The Commission cannot own property, but the California State Coastal Conservancy can. At that point, the lot went to the Conservancy, who began working with the Commission on building a pathway to the beach. However, they still needed a government partner who would agree to oversee the physical construction of the stairway, and then operate and maintain it. As one might expect, maintenance involves emptying trash cans, cleaning the stairway, removing any graffiti, and making sure it remains in good repair. In 2005, they found that partner in the The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.

However, they also had to obtain permits and deal with two lawsuits, first from the former property owners and another from the local homeowners association. Construction finally began on the stairway in March, and its grand opening was held Tuesday morning. Funding came via fees collected by the Commission and Proposition 84, a water, parks and wildlife bond act passed in 2006.

If you were curious about the difference between the Coastal Commission and the Coastal Conservancy, Locklin explains it like this:

The Commission is a regulatory body. We regulate shoreline development, like the building of homes along the coast, and planning for future development. And [we] ensure beach access. There's a variety of ways that we do that. The Conservancy has a mandate to protect the coast as well, but they do not regulate or permit. They provide grants to implement coastal policies. So, the Coastal Commission approved a permit for the expansion of the mobile home park, and required the dedication of this parcel for beach access. The Conservancy is the agency that owns the property, and they use their grant funding to build [the stairway].

Last summer, a pathway to Malibu's Carbon Beach, also known as Billionaires' Beach, finally opened after 30 years. In the '80s, a couple built their home there after securing permits that required them to include a 10-foot-wide easement to allow beach access. When the State took steps to open the access way in 2002, the homeowners sued to prevent this from happening. Many years later, the homeowners settled with the State, removing a wall and rocks that had blocked the path. The pathway opened in July of 2015.
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The Coastal Conservancy is currently working on nine other access points with Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the Coastal Commission.

Related: The Santa Monica Mountains' 67-Mile 'Backbone' Trail Is Finally Complete