by Devin Fehely

SANTA CRUZ (KPIX) — Santa Cruz homeowners are vowing to continue their fight against the Coastal Commission in what has become the latest battle for beach access on the California coast.

“I haven’t gone through that way in at least thirty years and, even when it was open, the homeowners would still chase you out. They didn’t want you going through,” said Richard Herzon, who likes to fish in the area.

Herzon is old enough to remember a time when there was a makeshift walking path down the cliff to Blacks Beach in Santa Cruz County.

But it was a gate — installed a few years ago and now gone — that caught the attention of the Coastal Commission, which has launched an investigation.

“As far as I’m concerned, the whole coast is a state park — it should absolutely be accessible,” Herzon said.

Blacks Beach, also called Twin Lakes Beach is accessible to the public. A footpath through a residential neighborhood and down a cliff is a convenient shortcut — especially for those coming from nearby Sunny Cove Beach.

A spokesperson for nearby homeowners, who did not want to go on-camera, told KPIX that the path cuts through private property. That’s a common theme in battles for beach access.

One local resident we spoke to, named Michael Levy, was equanimous as he considered the issue.

“If there was, historically, (beach) access then access should probably be preserved unless there’s some overriding concern, like there’s been a lot of vandalism or something like that,” he said.