Local Surfrider activists with the Ventura County Chapter have successfully restored public access to the beach near McGrath State Beach in Oxnard, CA. Surfers, fishermen, and beachgoers have accessed the “Fruitstands” surf break for decades by parking near the namesake fruit stand across the street. Over the years this beach has remained relatively wild and uncrowded because of its anonymity and access – an increasingly rare commodity in Southern California. In May 2012, Surfrider members reported that a new gate had been installed on the access road off Harbor boulevard. It turned out that Venoco oil company was drilling new wells near the beach and had installed fences to keep people out of the construction zone. Unfortunately, the renewed industrial activity had precluded public access to the beach. This limited access was compounded by the periodic closures of McGrath State Beach.
Surfrider contacted the California Coastal Commission in 2012, and they issued a “Notice of Violation” of the California Coastal Act, stating, “the unpermitted fencing forms a new obstruction to potential public access to the beach.”
The Ventura County Planning Division administers the Conditional Use Permit for the Venoco operations, and updated the permit this year. Surfrider wrote a letter and attended the public hearing on March 27th, 2014 to ensure that public access provisions were accounted for in the new permit. In the end the County allowed Veneco to simply remove the original yellow pipe gate and leave the new chainlink gate in place. Although from the street it still appears to be blocked, pedestrian access is now possible around the gate.
So for now at least, coastal access has been restored at Fruit Stands!