Step past the sign, and a young man might zoom up on an all-terrain vehicle to shoo you away, warning that this is the property of the Surfrider Beach Club. When questioned one recent afternoon, the young man said he knew nothing of the long-standing legal principle — and, more to the point, a 2009 court settlement — that appear to establish that the portion of beach he was patrolling is open to everyone.
Nearby, a group of friends who drove down for the day from Teaneck obeyed the sign, but it did not sit well. “Look at all that empty beach,” Samantha Soler, 20, said. “It doesn’t seem right.”
This is summer at the Jersey Shore, a low-cost escape for millions of people from several states, most of them unaware that they have stepped into perennial conflicts over how they can use the beaches.
Many places welcome visitors and their business, but for generations, some property owners, neighborhoods and towns have tried to stem that tide with scarce or time-limited parking, claims of private ownership, bans on food and drinks, and paths to the sand that are few in number or disguised.
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Read the rest of this story in the N.Y. Times here.
The City Project has long fought to keep California’s beaches and coastal zone public for all. See Robert García and Erica Flores Baltodano, Free the Beach! Public Access, Equal Justice, and the California Coast, 2 Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties 143 (2005).
Learn more about the Free the Beach! campaign.