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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hearing on Alleged Accessway Mismanagment Is Postponed

• Access for All’s Founder Says That He Regrets ‘Going off the Reservation’ in Carbon Beach Case

BY BILL KOENEKER

Access for All, which was instrumental in helping get the David Geffen accessway opened on Carbon Beach, has run afoul of the state over its dealings with another beachfront owner about an accessway at the same beach also known as Billionaire's Beach, according to state officials.
A hearing before the state Coastal Conservancy was scheduled for July 21, but has been postponed until September for the Conservancy to consider and make a determination as to whether Access for All has “failed in its obligation to properly manage the Ackerberg easement located at 22486 Pacific Coast Highway for public access to the shoreline and, if so, possible authorization for the Conservancy to accept the easement or designate another entity to accept the Ackerberg easement.”
The questions involved what Linda Locklin, the coastal access project manager for the California Coastal Commission, calls AFA’s “side deal involving Ackerberg.”
The idea was Ackerberg was to pay Access for All $250,000 for the organization to pursue another accessway on Carbon Beach held by Los Angeles County.
“They do not have the authority opening or closing or trading accessways,” said Locklin.
Steve Hoye, the spokesperson for Access for All, said, “What I did I did out of frustration. They handed over that easement six years ago and then took six years to clear it up. We sued [earlier]. We settled,” he said.
Hoye acknowledged “he went off the reservation” on how he handled the matter and said he regrets doing so. “But at no time did I jeopardize the easement. What I wanted was two easements. At first we would open the county easement and then the Ackerberg easement. I have not done so much, but sort something out with a private homeowner. It was a bad idea in retrospect. It is not mine to play with,” he added.
The revelations came after the California Coastal Commission won a lawsuit filed by Lisette Ackerberg challenging the state agency.
Judge James C. Chalfant recently upheld a Coastal Commission cease and desist order, which directed the Carbon Beach homeowner to allow opening up a public accessway from Pacific Coast Highway to the beach.
The Los Angeles County Superior Court judge also ordered the removal of unpermitted items blocking the accessway, including large rocks, wall, concrete slab and generator, fence, railing, planters and landscaping, which was all located directly on the accessway.
The condition of a vertical accessway was a requirement of the coastal development permit issued in the early 80s for Ackerberg to construct the oceanfront mansion.
The judge also dismissed Ackerberg's attempt to extinguish the public access easement from her property by entering into a private settlement with AFA. The judge's ruling concluded, “[Ackerberg] has avoided her obligations with respect to the easement for 26 years.”
The state claims it did not know that AFA had entered a settlement in exchange for a pledge of up to $250,000 and attorney's fees to Access for All to pursue another accessway. AFA would work with the homeowner to sue Los Angeles County to open another accessway next to the Malibu Outrigger condominiums.
Hoye said he did no such thing, but merely promised to pursue the county accessway first. “The only thing I agreed to do was file a formal application and that I would not advocate, urge or go to the meeting,” he said.
“We would have had two accessways. After the county accessway was opened, Ackerberg and I would apply to open [her] accessway,” he added.
“But by and large I blew it,” said Hoye, acknowledging he never thought the commission or its staff would react the way it did. “I don’t even know if I want the easement,” he concluded.

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