Coastal Commission Blocks Newport Beach Residents’ Attempt to Treat Beach as Their Backyard

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The California Coastal Commission on Wednesday blocked Newport Beach’s attempt to allow many oceanfront homeowners to keep or install landscaping and other property on the adjoining public beach. They said that it was, in effect, privatization.

The city sought to amend its Local Coastal Program, a development agreement with the state, to allow — for a fee paid by the homeowners — up to 15 feet of encroachments on the far east end of the Balboa Peninsula known as Peninsula Point. That would have protected at least some of the landscaping, patios, furniture, pavers, fences and other adornments that make up unpermitted seaward “backyards” reaching past the property line of 55 homes between F Street and the harbor entrance channel. Many of those extensions have been in place for years, even decades.

The Peninsula Point encroachments can reach as far out as 80 feet. The city offered to reduce them to 15 feet, the depth of the city right of way abutting the homes, and restore the covered sand.

“We want the beach restored every bit as much as the general public and you do,” Don Schmitz, the city’s lobbyist to the Coastal Commission, told the panel at its meeting Wednesday in San Luis Obispo. He flipped among aerial photos of the current encroachments and a rendering showing them hemmed in.

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