Those looking to fight off public pressure to open the beaches of Hollister Ranch were dealt a huge blow on Wednesday, as Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill, AB 1680, into law that is designed to open access to the 8.5 miles of once-elusive sand.
The decision does not come as a major surprise, as Gov. Newsom has been outspoken about beach access to all.
In addition, the powerful homeowners that have pushed to keep Hollister Ranch private had already suffered a defeat in March of 2019, with the California Court of Appeal rejecting Hollister Ranch’s challenge to a lower court’s finding that a proposed settlement agreement between the ranch and state over access to the beach was unfair to the public.
The battle between the public and the homeowners has brewed since 1982, when the California Coastal Commission developed a comprehensive public access program for Hollister Ranch, but the Gaviota Coastal Trail Alliance told the News-Press that Hollister Ranch did not cooperate, ultimately preventing its implementation.
The California Coastal Commission, State Lands Commission, California State Parks and state Coastal Conservancy signed an agreement earlier this year, working to create “meaningful, safe, environmentally sustainable and operationally feasible public access to and along the coast at the ranch.”
The four agencies even toured the Hollister Ranch beaches alongside the Hollister Ranch Owners Association in July, with the State Lands Commission also being allowed to map the beaches for the first time. The Owners Association had called for Gov. Newsom to veto the bill, instead asking to continue the recent trend of all parties working together.
AB 1680 was written by Assemblywoman Monique Limon of Santa Barbara, who took to Twitter to celebrate Gov. Newsom signing the bill:“#AB1680 has been signed by Governor @GavinNewsom to begin a path to public access on the Gaviota Coast at Hollister Ranch. The state Legislature, the state Constitution and the Coastal Act have all reaffirmed the public’s right to the beach. With #AB1680 and after almost 40 years, the state of California has made a clear statement that no matter your zip code, all Californians deserve a chance to enjoy our public parks and beaches. Hollister Ranch is no exception.”