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by Joel Brand
Saturday, Jul. 01, 2006 at 3:00 PM
Wealthy neigbors have filed a lawsuit to try to stop Santa Monica from opening a public beach club near two exclusive private clubs.
Outraged community members have organized a rally on the sand in Santa Monica
Environmental, beach access and historic preservation groups have come out in support of the project and the public's right to use the beach and public coastal property.
Santa Monica – As Americans prepare to celebrate freedom, liberty and equality, several hundred supporters of the proposed public beach club will attend a beach party rally to protest the recent lawsuit neighbors have filed to block the restoration of the old Marion Davies/William Randolph Hearst estate at 415 Pacific Coast Highway.
The club, funded by a million private grant, would be an “everyman’s” version of the nearby members-only Jonathan Club and the Beach Club. The club will be open to the general public for a modest day-use fee. Construction on the project is set to begin in less than a year and city officials say there is no change in their timetable.
Four beachfront neighbors filed a lawsuit June 23rd asking a judge to overturn the Santa Monica City Council’s approval of the project, despite months of public input and the participation of more than 200 community members in the design and mitigations.
“They are acting like beach bullies, kicking sand in the face of the public, or in this case having their lawyers do it for them,” said Joel Brand, Chair of Friends of 415. “When America is celebrating our founding values of liberty and equality, is it acceptable for wealthy neighbors to stop a public beach club from opening when they have no complaints about the two nearby private clubs? The public owns this property and the beach is for everyone.”
The plaintiffs argue that the project will cause environmental problems, damage to historic architecture, safety issues and violates the city’s municipal code. A host of environmental and historic preservation leaders have dismissed the claims and offered their support for the project.
“We see this kind of action far too often – a small group of private homeowners claim security and environmental concerns when those issues turn out to be baseless,” said attorney Mark Massara, Director of the Coastal Programs for the Sierra Club.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. There is no other facility like this on the entire coast and it will become a priceless public coastal resource,” Massara said.
The beach party protest will be held Monday, July 3rd at 3:30 PM on sand in front of the former Marion Davies Estate at 415 PCH, adjacent to Back on the Beach restaurant.
The event is planned as a family-friendly rally, featuring a giant sand castle “beach club,” volleyball, and other beach-themed activities. Participants are encouraged to bike to the rally and a bike parade will proceed to the rally from the Santa Monica pier just after 3 PM, Monday.
For more information visit www.friendsof415.org.
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