Public Should Have Access to Rockledge

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Recently a journalist interviewed me about public coastal access along the Rockledge coast (“Neighbors Seek Beach Access,” April 29 edition). This inquiry about beach access was just up my alley because during my career I implemented the County’s Comprehensive Coastal Access Program that resulted in construction of 1000 Steps, Secret Cove, reconstruction of the West Street Beach stairway and Smithcliffs Park, and numerous coastal accesses from Seal Beach to San Clemente.

The coastline and beaches in California belong to the people. The county’s “1980 Recreation Needs Analysis” identified shoreline recreation as the most popular outdoor activity in the county. Over 30 years later, shoreline recreation retains its same popularity, and achieving access to our beaches remains a significant coastal goal of the state, county and city. For this reason, I am suggesting a need for additional public beach access.

A couple of months ago I was asked to look at the feasibility of a public access way to the Rockledge shoreline between Moss Point and Victoria Beach. It’s one of the least known oceanfront neighborhoods in Laguna due to its ruggedness, isolation, and inaccessibility. I know the Rockledge area well because I lived there at one time.

To understand the need for access at Rockledge, I undertook an objective approach and measured the spacing between public access ways in Laguna. Excluding private communities and Rockledge, the rest of Laguna’s shoreline is entirely accessible to the public. In general, public access is located a block apart in the middle of town and more widely spaced apart near the north and south city limits.

Rockledge is the one area in Laguna where there is no public access for a distance of almost 3,000 feet. It is important to note that the 12 private stairways testify to the splendor of the cliffs, shoreline and ocean resources at Rockledge.

The history of public access to our gorgeous coastline is complex, and it would take a lot of room to describe. However, Rockledge is one very beautiful area crying for public access.

Rockledge has been called a national treasure. I have been afforded the opportunity to know and respect this treasure. Please take a moment to review the gallery of historic site photos and of the surrounding area on the web site. If you are interested and wish to see the locations of all the public and private access ways leading to the beach, they are on a detailed aerial photograph at the Lifeguard Headquarters. I look forward to walking together on a public access way at Rockledge.

Eric Jessen, Laguna Beach



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