By Len Ramirez

SANTA CRUZ (CBS SF) — The people responsible for a gate blocking access to Santa Cruz’s Privates Beach are digging in their heels.

They’re now facing huge fines for not letting the public in.

One day after a deadline to demolish the locked and gated entrance to Privates Beach — nothing has changed.

You still need a special key to access the beautiful beach and water and gatekeepers say they have no plans to change.

Tanner Farley, who calls himself a gate ambassador, said, “The gate is still standing as you can see behind me, very nice.”

But the California Coastal Commission called him a “guard” in its recent letter demanding that the gate be taken down by June 30th to comply with the California Coastal Act, which ensures open beach access to the public.

Privates Beach was established in 1941 as a semi-private beach for the locals. A neighborhood association called the Opal Cliffs Recreation District manages the gate, a small park and a staircase to the beach.

To pay for upkeep and repairs, the association also sells electronic key cards at a local surf shop: $50 for neighbors, $100 for everyone else.

Mike Dewitt, of Santa Cruz, said, “It’s good because it does keep out the riff raff.”

Neighbors like Dewitt say the beach is a safe place for families, but he worries it could revert back to a problem area as it was in the 1990s when the gate was not locked.

“You’re going to get the party revelers down here, drinking beer and smashing bottles,” Dewitt said.

But Bonnie Peterson says those fears are overblown.

“The majority of the public comes for really good reasons,” she said.

Peterson was enjoying Privates Beach on a friend’s pass and said she doesn’t like the idea of a locked gate to the beach.

“In my heart I feel that the public has a right to come to the ocean and come to the beach and if there’s a way to make it accessible to the public, I’m really in favor of that,” Peterson said.

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