Stab Magazine | Divisive: Hollister Ranch To Be Open To The Public?
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Divisive: Hollister Ranch To Be Open To The Public?

Are you willing to paddle for miles?

news // May 24, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Ranch: California’s worst kept secret and best kept protected surf oasis is on the docket to be opened to the public.

But, there’s a catch.

According to the LA Times:

One of California’s least tarnished stretches of coastline will be accessible only to wealthy property owners, visitors with guides and those who can boat or paddle two miles under a deal between state officials and landowners in Hollister Ranch, who have for decades fought to keep their beaches almost entirely to themselves.

The settlement — signed by the California State Coastal Conservancy and the state Coastal Commission on one side and the Hollister Ranch Owners Assn. on the other — grants the public a roughly three-quarter-mile section of beach, accessible only by ocean ‘via surfboard, paddleboard, kayak or soft-bottom boat.’ The beach is about two miles from Gaviota State Park beach.

Previously, the area just south of Point Conception has only been accessible by boat or if you have a golden ticket to get there. Meaning you know the right people, or you’re one of the Malloy Brothers; or friends with James Cameron, or Patagonia owner, Yvon Chouinard; or your dad’s favorite singer-songwriter, Jackson Browne.

In California, The Ranch is pushing myth. Everyone who knows someone who surfs or has surfed there, has one question on their mind: “Can I come next time?”

The ranch has infamously kept the public at bay with a guard shack, gates and security patrols. Some owners also have resorted to intimidation and harassment, even when outsiders were in state waters or on the public portion of beach below the mean high-tide line, according to owners and government reports. continues the LA Times Article.

Over the years, owners have fought to keep things their way. When the Clinton administration proposed turning 46 miles of coastline in northern Santa Barbara County into a national seashore, the ranch association raised $300,000 to hire a lobbyist to oppose the idea.

Landowners have contended that letting the public in could spoil the ranch’s coastline and undo years of effort to protect the environment. They point to the temporary access that they already grant to scientists, academics, historical societies, environmental groups and schoolchildren.

The public access is still limited to just a taste. So you most likely still won’t surf there.

But, you can dream that maybe one day, the California coast will have public access for everyone. And one later day, will, in turn, be tragically fucked like the majority of the area sitting south of Point Conception.

Happy hunting.

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