By Zach Friend
Recently, the County placed up Coastal Access signs along Beach Drive (near the Rio Del Mar Esplanade) letting the public know about their ability to use the public access pathway on the coastal side of the homes on Beach Drive. For the last few years, we have been working to facilitate the reopening of this important public coastal asset.
For many years the pathway has been unfortunately blocked (fenced) for private use by homeowners that live in the immediately adjacent Beach Island residences. However, the 37-foot-wide walk (as it was originally dedicated) is a public space. Over time, the walk has narrowed with erosion but still provides a safer, and more accessible, pathway for residents interested in recreating along the coast between Seacliff and Rio Del Mar.
The County, working in partnership with the Coastal Commission, has reopened the gate that was blocking the south eastern access point to the pathway and is working to improve access throughout the entirety of the path.
As many have noted that have accessed Beach Drive, specifically along the narrow inland pathway from the Esplanade to just past the Beach Island, the access is unsafe and inadequate as it currently exists especially for those using wheelchairs, strollers or with other mobility issues.
It’s narrow, often has obstructions (such as garbage cans) and doesn’t provide proper access. However, reopening the public walkway on the coastal side provides a width that would meets mobility and safety needs. Ultimately, reestablishing this public accessway allows for coastal side access from Seacliff to Rio Del Mar in a safe, accessible and beautiful way.
While recently the Coastal Access signs were taken down, the County is committed to continually hang up new signs and ensure that the community is aware of the walkway that they own. The Coastal Commission continues to be supportive of our efforts to restore this important public accessway and we will continue to do what we need to in order to protect public access in that location.
I always enjoy looking at historical photos and have included a few for this story to show the public accessway along the Beach Island.
As you can see from the photos, the original dedication created a coastal access (used here both as a road and path) on the coastal side of Beach Island. The County has continued to recognize its ownership of this 37-foot-wide walk throughout the years and we hope to have additional improvements to the walk over time.
As always, if you have any questions feel free to contact me at 454-2200.