The state Assembly gave final legislative approval Monday to a bill designed to open up the pristine beaches of Hollister Ranch, giving hope to advocates and officials whose efforts to secure public access have been thwarted for decades by the area’s powerful landowners.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has until Oct. 13 to decide whether to sign the measure, AB 1680, which requires that the public be allowed to enter the ranch by land and access some of its 8.5 miles of shoreline by April 2022. Further access would be phased in under a comprehensive plan to be developed in the next two years.
The bill also would make it a crime, punishable by tens of thousands of dollars in fines, for any action by a person or group “to impede, delay, or otherwise obstruct the implementation of “public access to these coveted beaches and surf breaks in Santa Barbara County.
A similar measure was rejected a year ago by then-Gov. Jerry Brown, who in his veto message called on state officials to work together on a new public access plan. Ranch owners, who have long contended that the little-trafficked stretch of coast has benefited from their private stewardship, celebrated this as a victory.
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