Beach Driving Halted at Hollister Ranch

Coastal Commission Says It's 'Degrading' to Natural Habitats

Vehicles parked along the Hollister Ranch beach
Paul Wellman

A longtime Hollister Ranch activity has come under scrutiny as the spotlight continues to shine on the private 14,500-acre community and its ongoing legal wrangle with environmentalists and state agencies set on expanding the general public’s access to beaches along its eight miles of coastline.

In a violation notice last month to the Hollister Ranch Owners Association (HROA), the California Coastal Commission described the HROA’s “formal beach driving program” as “degrading [to] beach habitats and the natural coastline” and against the law. “Hollister Ranch property owners … have repeatedly expressed concern about the environmental impacts of increased public access to the beach, and property owners at Hollister Ranch have described themselves as coastal stewards responsible for the preservation of the coast at Hollister Ranch,” the December 17 letter states. “However, driving of motor vehicles on the beach has … the potential for very significant detrimental impacts, and would greatly exceed the usual disruption to the coast caused from low-impact pedestrian use. This unpermitted [activity] harms marine life and coastal resources, and is contrary to the Coastal Act and county [law].”

A vehicle parked along the Hollister Ranch beach.
Paul Wellman

In a December 28 response to the Coastal Commission, HROA President Monte Ward wrote, “It appears that the [Coastal Commission] staff was unaware that the HROA had decided about a month earlier (on Nov. 17) to suspend beach driving privileges. On Dec. 21, the HROA Board … voted to amend the Ranch rules to prohibit beach driving, effective immediately. Finalizing this rule to make it permanent requires 30 days’ notice to the owners which was issued on Dec. 21.”


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