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07 • 21 • 2021

Court Victory for Beach Access Rights in California Lent Case

Surfrider successfully defended the California Coastal Commission's actions to stop egregious attempts to block public beach access by a private homeowner in Malibu, California

For nine years, Dr. Warren Lent, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon and Malibu propertyowner, committed willful and extended disregard of the Coastal Act by failing to provide a public access to the beach on one side of their property, subject to an easement. Instead of a public accessway, there is a gate, private stairway and a deck blocking public access to the easement area, all of which are unpermitted by the CCC. At the California Coastal Commission's November 2016 hearing, the Commission issued a $4,185,000 fine for blatant violation of the Coastal Act for several years. For more information, check out the victory report!

The Lent's took this decision to court. The California Appellate Court handed down a strong ruling in favor of beach access, defending the Coastal Commission's fine. Although this was a hefty fine, it was only half of what California law allows for the potential penalty that could be imposed for this type of violation. 

Surfrider Foundation entered this case alongside environmental justice group Azul as an amicus (“friend of the court”) party, represented by Stanford Environmental Law Clinic. The Lent's appealed the case up to the California Supreme Court. The California Supreme Court denied the case on July 21, 2021. The Court closed with favorable precedent for large Coastal Commission fines for beach access violations - a huge win for public access in Malibu for all those who enjoy California's beaches! 

For more information, see Surfrider's blog posts:

Keeping Malibu’s Beaches Open for Public Access

Court Victory for Beach Access Rights in California Lent Case