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New App Will Let You Reach Malibu Beaches, Even 'Private' Ones

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Malibu is home to some of the most coveted—and contested—beaches in the world. (Photo by Joe Seer/Shutterstock)
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Getting to the beach in Malibu isn't easy since so much of the coast is (sometimes illegally) marked "private property." One woman's app might change all that.

Angered by so many restrictive signs along the Malibu coastline, environmental writer Jenny Price first wrote a guide to LA's hardest-to-reach beaches for LA Observed. Ben Adair, co-founder of Escape Apps, urged her to turn it into an app.

One Kickstarter campaign later, they're offering Our Malibu Beaches smartphone app. It'll be released for iPhone and iPad next month, with a planned Android release if their Kickstarter funds reach $30,000, the LA Times reports.

Price detailed all the sneaky ways homeowners use to dissuade beachgoers from traipsing across their property to reach the parts of the beach that should be open to the public. (The rule of thumb in LA is that wet sand is a public beach.)

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"You have these miles of beachfront in Malibu," she said. "It's one of the most egregious examples of privatization of public space in Los Angeles." She points out that Malibu's 27 miles of oceanfront should, by California law, have at least 105 public access points but there are currently only 17.

Her app guides users house by house to where they can legally access the beach. She exposes tricks used by Malibu's beach-hotting elite, including fake signs, illegally padlocked and unlocked but official-looking gates that fool the average person into thinking they are trespassing.

She claims out that music mogul David Geffen's gate by his PCH home is actually blocking four public spaces onto "Billionaires Beach."

To prepare the app, Price made more than a dozen research trips to the beach. She spoke to public agencies, read up on public access laws, consulted other activists and studied Coastal Commission guidebooks. Linda Locklin, the California Coastal Commission's manager of coastal access programs, fact-checked the entries.

They plan to offer the program for free for the summer and possibly develop a Web version for the Web. More than turning a profit, Adair said, their goal is to get "a really cool project out there."