App shows you the way to the illegally hidden public beaches of Malibu

Back in May, Mark wrote about a Kickstarter project to fund a mobile app that will help you locate the hidden entrances to Malibu's public beaches, which the local rich and famous people have done everything they can to obscure (including putting up illegal fake signs that falsely declare passage to be trespassing).

The Kickstarter was fully funded and the app is out, and the public is finding its way to Malibu's public beaches, which is great news -- unless you're one of those people who's spent decades treating a public beach as your own private patch. Local residents are pissed:

“I don’t think it’s a snobby thing. It’s like letting someone into your backyard. You’re paying for the beach house and the property you own is technically the beach in front of your house,” said Emma Ravdin.

Oh, diddums.

Battle Over Access To Malibu Beaches Goes High-Tech With New App [CBS]

(via MeFi)


  1. That’s a great quote about the back yard. Too bad for them they didn’t take into account that the beach is NOT their back yard when they spent all that money on the house.

          1. Not his real name of course, but a Truly Important Person can’t be bothered to learn all of his staff’s actual names.

          2.  I was thinking more along the lines of Pedro or Carmelita.

            Or is taking advantage of undocumented help no longer a thing in California?

          3. You’ll have to pry my footmen from my cold, dead livery. Do you think that people worth billions don’t have imported butlers?

          4. C’mon, we don’t stand for that kind of commie paternalism here! We let the butlers import themselves at their own risk and expense…

    1. I’m pretty sure you’re incorrect. They own it down to the high tide line. The issue under dispute is access, which has been illegally blocked.

  2. “You’re paying for the beach house and the property you own is technically the beach in front of your house,” said Emma Ravdin.”

    I am assuming that if these are public beaches, this is just another example of someone misusing the term “technically” ?

    I let it slip when my 8 year old misused it the other day (okay, not really, I called her on it), but…

    1.  I am very curious to know how this attitude arose, anyway. Did they simply assume when they moved in, or do realtors give them a false sense of potential ownership when presenting the property? Or has this sense of entitlement grown over many years, taking root before the population boom of 1865-1920, when there were a lot fewer people around?

    2. Unless there is a public access easement, they DO technically own the beach from their house to the mean high tide line.

  3. That’s like buying a home adjacent to the airport and then trying to keep all the planes away from your “private” airspace. If you don’t want people near your house, don’t build your house adjacent to a beach you don’t own.

  4. i feel like i need to go on a surf trip up to malibu so i can take advantage of this, in san diego all beaches are public as far as i know

    1. Friends don’t let friends visit “private” beaches alone… or without a soundsystem. 

      1.  An offshore soundsystem on a boat. I’d recommend gabber for best results at making friends.

          1.  Eeew, I don’t. 90s Gabber is Best Gabber. It’s the cheerful idiocy and the massive kickdrums.

  5. I LOVE this!! Wish I was a west coaster….I’d be a Public Beach accessing fool, with a big smile, “Hello!” and wave of the hand…
    <>..whiny bitches…

    1. Unfortunately they often do more than grumble, sometimes they hire private security guards to harass beachgoers too. The rich folks know that they don’t really need legal standing if they just make beach access unpleasant and inconvenient enough so that most people stay away.

      1. Sounds like there may be some easy money to score here, alongside setting things to rights.  Go to the beaches, film everything, and if you get harrassed, lodge a lawsuit;  soak the jerks for a nice settlement, and include the requirement that you get to publish the result.   Subsequent like infractions will be even more harshly punished.  Viola, you’ve opened up the beaches to those who are supposed to have access, and you’ve made some cash.

        1. That’s great for getting the ones who do illegal stuff but it’s possible to make someone feel uncomfortable and unwelcome without actually breaking the law.

          People go to the beach to relax, nobody wants to feel the ever-present glare of security guards while they sunbathe or go swimming with their kids.

      2.  That’s true. It’s true even in Lake Tahoe, where there aren’t tides but the lake level changes every year, so most years there’s a lot of public beach and every once in a while, the public part of the beach is underwater. In North Shore, there’s an awesome little beach where the asshole home owners (who are well hated by everyone else in the neighborhood) illegally put up fences to keep the public off “their” land, thus blocking off access to 2/3rds of the beach. The county tore the biggest down, opening another third of the beach, but the last third is blocked off not by an actual wall but a really obnoxiously built pier/dock that doubles as a fence. If you dare go around/under it, you will be chased off the beach by a security guard with a gun. Who will threaten to shoot you for trespassing. People tend to call the sheriff when that happens, but the sheriff doesn’t bother responding to those calls anymore. And the thing that makes it all the more disgusting is that all three houses are pretty much empty 24/7. But I know someone who worked on the computer network for house #3, they said there’s a crazy amount of web-connected and controlled security cameras, mostly  facing the beach. The homeowner’s daughter apparently spends most of her time monitoring them and telling the security guard to go chase off beach goers.

      3. I can see this evolving into a game for some people, making the lives of the rich people unpleasant in return. Especially in the age of flash mobs and apps like this, eventually someone will figure out a sort of game which involves catching private security being dicks, bonus points if the homeowner himself or herself pulls a “get off of my property” when you clearly are still in the “below high tide” area.

        Eventually, though, someone is going to get hurt when a frustrated henchma- I mean security guard – loses his cool and punches a kid. And then the game moves on to a less casual and more serious level.

  6. What is the “mean high tide line”? 

    My understanding is that the beaches are public between the ocean and the “mean high tide line,” but private property can extend to mean high tide line. However, the part of the beach that most people use, in my experience, is uphill of the high tide line. We put our blankets, umbrellas, etc. on dry sand, not wet.

    In other words, does this mean that if you’re walking/sitting/whatever on the wet sand you’re good, but if you set-up your towel on the dry sand, you’re trespassing?

    1. The mean tide line is really esoteric — you have to average out all the high tide levels for the past 18.4 years and then that’s the where the public sands start. From there down to the water. 

      The rule of thumb is that any sand that’s wet is public property. You’re always good there.

      BUT, there’s a whole lot of dry sand that’s public property too because of easements that home owners have agreed too (in return for zoning variances, for example, like to build a new pool or deck.

      So in the Our Malibu Beaches app we walk you down each beach house by house to show you where on the dry sand you can place your towel and hang out. It’s info that’s not available online, only in the app!

    2.  Not exactly.

      The mean high tide line is the average point in which several high tides have reached over a long period of time, usually several years.

      Generally, I think this is easily observed in the terrain, but data is often gathered and signs designate the point at which you aren’t supposed to tresspass. At least this is what I’ve observed at a few Florida and Texas beaches.

  7. First of all thanks to all the boing boing readers who supported our kickstarter! You guys are the best. 

    Second, if you really wanna have some laughs, check out the 1-star reviews on the App Store page. Luls!

  8. I sometimes wonder if I am the only person who remembers TV Nation’s take on ‘Private’ Public beaches.

    1. Yes, remembered this as well. Too great. Janeane is awesome. 

      “This land is your land This land is my land
      From California to the New York island; 
      From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters 
      This land was made for you and Me.”

        1. I’d hate to see over-zealous BB’ers get in trouble for vandalism/theft/defacement. Just because the sign is allegedly not supposed to be there (which it seems is true in some of those cases but possibly not all) doesn’t mean it’s our place to simply take them. But clearly I am just pooping the party. :)

          1. ‘poop away’ but if I install a sign in your garden to that effect I have a feeling you or a neighbour will remove it pretty quickly.

  9. Public ervice guys. You’re doing it right.

    Pity this isn’t sponsored by California. I mean c’mon… of course these big shots are where they get money from so who are they going to back?

  10. Still wouldn’t recommend swimming in Malibu, at least not until they get a proper sewage system working in Malibu.

  11. The disconnect comes from how ownership is defined.  Ownership of real property does not always include the right to exclude the public.  So one can be correct in saying they own the beach, but wrong in saying they can therefor keep everyone else out.  

  12. One of the problems is that there are no public facilities and people use the private property for their bathroom, which is NOT cool and neither is littering, which is also a problem.  If they pack it in, they should pack it out, and leave the beach as they found it.

    1.  Like I said above, return the properties back to nature, turn some of them as needed into public beach houses: Restrooms, showers, snack bars etc.

      1.  Perfect! Granite countertop snack bars with terrazo floors, cathedral ceiling shower rooms and an infinity toilet out back.

  13. The ‘all-perfectly-on-message’, swarming behaviour and frankly creepy ‘Society‘-style embodiment of that community, creepily creeped me the hell out!

  14. So, technically they own the house AND a little bit of beach adjacent, only they have to make sure people can pass through. Why not making a path for trespassers? That’s how it works anywhere else. o.O

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