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Eco/Politics

Private Island Fights Public Access to Bridge in Newport Beach

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Private island fightThe great thing about Private Islands is that you don’t have to worry about neighbours. Well not always. Residents on a Private Island in Newport Bay are suing the California Coastal Commission to keep their pedestrian bridge from opening to the general public.

The Los Angeles Times recently explained the dispute noting that the Coastal Commission contends that the Bay Island Club, an association of 24 homeowners on the tiny island by that name, must allow public access to the bridge if the club wants to replace the aging 130-foot span. It’s a classic example of the struggle between private landowners and state government, which since the 1976 passage of the California Coastal Act, has aggressively protected the public’s access to shorelines and waterways.

The city owns the  canal under the bridge and the Newport Beach City Council voted unanimously July 27   to support the islanders in court. The island is about halfway down the Balboa Peninsula.

Defendants of the island state: “Yes, it’s across public property,” said Councilman Don Webb. “But it really has no use other than coming on and off the island.”

 

Coastal commissioners can picture people fishing, strolling and exploring the views from the footbridge. The commissioners say that the city is required to keep it public.

“We felt that we needed to protect the public’s interest in access to public waters,” said Christopher Pederson, deputy chief counsel for the commission.

Hopefully a fair and equitable compromise can be reached in this case. However it seems unfair that the islands residents are being asked to foot the bill for the new bridge but the coastal commission expects free public access.  In addition since the island is private property it seems there would be no need for the general public to be on the bridge in the first place.

To read more about this issue visit the Los Angeles Times

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