DANA POINT (CBSLA.com) — The city’s claims of teenage “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” cannot be used to limit access to Dana Point’s popular beaches, a judge has ruled.

The ruling was a win for public beach access, California Coastal Commission Executive Director Charles Lester said.

“If you have a real, legitimate threat and you need to take emergency action to safeguard the public, you can take steps to do that,” Lester said. “But you can’t pretend there’s a nuisance just to avoid your Coastal Act obligations.

The lawsuit stems from the Strand at Headlands, a development of beachfront homes, whose developer was required to provide new public access ways through the development to the popular beach. The developer built gates to the beach in 2009, and the city – claiming a flood of police reports – adopted an emergency ordinance to limit access through those gates during the day, according to the commission.

The commission told Dana Point city officials they did not have authority to limit hours and ordered the removal of the gates.

Dana Point officials claimed an exemption from the Coastal Act, citing a public nuisance, and sued the commission. In turn, the Surfrider Foundation sued Dana Point.

A lower coat initially ruled against the commission, but a court of appeals directed the lower court to reconsider, leading to Thursday’s decision. The city of Dana point appealed Surfrider’s victory in a lower court, and that lawsuit is now on hold.

In Thursday’s decision, San Diego Superior Court Judge Randa Trapp said a law enforcement representative’s claim of the “sex, drugs, rock and roll” that would result from not maintaining the gates and limited hours was “sheer speculation.”

“It made for good theater,” the judge wrote. “It was not, however, rooted in reality.”


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