Balboa Peninsula Point homeowners getting penalties for encroaching on public beach

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Some homeowners on Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach will be fined because their beachfront yards extend onto public land.

John Bonar manages properties on East Oceanfront Boulevard in Newport Beach.

"My owners both got letters and we can't touch it. We can't take it up. We can't do anything with it, so we just unplugged the sprinklers and we're letting it die, but the city is going to come in. Coastal is making us pull it. If we don't pull it, it's like $20,000 a month in penalties," Bonar said.

The enforcement supervisor with the California Coastal Commission said by mid-October, about 65 homeowners will have letters lining out their penalties.

This came after the commission denied the City of Newport Beach's request in July to let yards encroach 15 feet onto the public beach.

"City let them all do it. It's been going on for (years), I've been here 20 years. I think this one out here has been out here for 40 or 50 years, it has had the encroachment," Bonar said.

In a statement, the Newport Beach Director of Community Development expressed disappointment:

We are disappointed that the California Coastal Commission did not approve the City's application for an encroachment permit program as there is a lot of history and discussion between the residents, California Coast Commission staff and the City of Newport Beach as it pertains to the Peninsula Point encroachments. Additionally, a very similar encroachment permit program was permitted in the past by the California Coastal Commission in West Newport that the Peninsula Point encroachments was modeled after. Hence, our disappointment that this program was not approved. We do respect the decision of the California Coastal Commission and are facilitating a quick resolution for the residences affected by the decision.

In a report supporting its denial, the commission wrote about the negative impact the landscaping has on the coastal dune ecosystem.

"One of the most sensitive and declining habitat types on the coast of California," adding, "The burdens of restricted coastal access, which are disproportionately borne by low-income and minority communities, will worsen as public beaches narrow over time due to sea level rise and less and less beach area is available for public recreation..."

"Nobody uses that part of the beach anyway. People want to use the beach closer to the coast," resident Sydney Warburton said.

Thuy and John Schwarz disagreed. They prefer to picnic away from the crowds and crashing waves.

"I absolutely love it. I think more people hang out by the water, so I like the privacy that I have here," Thuy Schwarz said.

"If you're trying to take up some of the space in front of your house and use it as your own space, I'm not too keen on that," John Schwarz said.

Property owners have until Nov. 8 to respond to the penalty assessment letters from the California Coastal Commission and after that point, the commission will decide whether to settle or move forward with enforcement action.
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