NIMBY surfers despair as exclusive Central Coast beaches open to the public

A few weeks ago, I tried to get into Hollister Ranch, an ultra-exclusive development of multi-million-dollar properties along California’s Central Coast. Each one sits comfortably on tens of acres above an 8.5-mile stretch of white sand beach, various coveted surf breaks and dramatic cliffs. Located just a half-hour north of Santa Barbara, the area is one of the remaining unblemished surf spots on the California coast.

At the front gate, I explained to the guard that I was doing a story on public access finally being realized for Hollister Ranch, but he didn’t allow me in. I left, without incident.

But if I went back to that same checkpoint today, I’d be able to park, walk right in and go enjoy the beach — or at least that’s what a clarified and penalty-laden version of the law now says.

Starting April 1, 2022, Hollister Ranch should be very much open to public access, thanks to Gov. Gavin Newsom, who signed Assembly Bill 1680 into law in October 2019. The bill ostensibly puts an end to a decadeslong battle between those who own property at Hollister Ranch and the public over who is legally allowed to enjoy its rarified shoreline.

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