A bill authored by State Assemblymember Monique Limón that would require some form of public access to the private beaches of Hollister Ranch (pictured) by April 2022 passed the Assembly and the Senate and landed this week on Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk. He has until October 13 to decide.
Limón’s bill, AB 1680, would require some public access along the 8.5 miles controlled and owned by Hollister Ranch, a patchwork quilt of private owners including the likes of singer Jackson Browne and Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard. The politically connected ranch has resisted public access since 1981, when the Legislature last approved a coastal access program that never saw the light of day. Where legislation failed, litigation, it appears, succeeded, forcing the ranching company to the bargaining table with state agencies dedicated to public trust issues.
The settlement deal they privately hammered out, however, elicited intense opposition by coastal advocates when it came to light: They complained the public interest had been sold short. Judge Colleen Sterne agreed with them and set the deal aside. Into this breach, Limón has introduced two bills to create public access where none exists. Last year’s iteration was rejected by Governor Jerry Brown. The latest bill notes that the public is denied access to all but two of the 60 miles that make up the Gaviota Coast. Limón’s bill will increase the cost of coastal development permits for Hollister Ranch to $33,000 to create an access trust fund. The bill passed the Senate with only two no votes and the Assembly with only one.