These California beaches have long been off-limits. But public outrage is changing the tide

Behind the exclusive gates of Hollister Ranch are some of California’s most-coveted beaches and surf breaks. Few have had the chance to visit them. But earlier this month, after decades of pushback and stalemates, state officials passed through these gates with the cooperation of the ranch’s powerful landowners. For the first time in years, they traversed the pristine 8.5-mile shoreline to establish initial boundaries that could be used for an ambitious public access program.

It’s one of many milestones this year in the escalating fight to open California’s coast to everyone. An all-out legal battle over Martins Beach near Half Moon Bay culminated with the nation’s highest court rejecting a Silicon Valley billionaire’s appeal to lock the gate on his terms. A Santa Cruz neighborhood that for decades has charged a fee recently agreed, under state pressure, to open its beach for free.

And though beach access at Hollister Ranch remains limited to landowners, select visitors and those strong enough to paddle in, coastal officials have declared they will find a way to open up this stretch of Santa Barbara County coastline once and for all.

Read full article . . .