SANTA BARBARA (KPIX 5) – A fight to open up a pristine stretch of California coastline is finally over, following a series of KPIX 5 reports that brought the issue into the spotlight.
Last year, reporters Kiet Do and Devin Fehely paddled to the exclusive beaches at Hollister Ranch in Santa Barbara County. The only way to get to the beach is by canoe or kayak by sea.
“The 3-mile paddle to Cuarta Canyon, against the current, in a five-knot headwind and two-to-three foot swells, took two-and-a-half hours. Large kelp beds slowed down our progress,” Do said in a report about their journey last year. “If we rested for too long, the wind began to blow us backwards. The fatigue will be much worse if you get seasick.”
Do went on to report that, “On the initial beach landing, Devin and I mistimed the entry, caught a wave at a bad angle and flipped the kayak. On subsequent attempts, we made it just fine, proving that it’s a skill that requires practice.”
Kayaking guide Tamlorn Chase told KPIX 5 about the challenges of the journey to the coastline.
“I worry about someone watching a program like this, seeing us do it, going to Costco, buying a cheap kayak, buy some cheap gear, and getting their family together and launching, not knowing the forecast is for gale force winds. They’re halfway up here, one of the kayaks flips, their kids are in the water, everything is getting blown away, and you can see where they’re really in a bad situation at that point,” Chase said. “People will die if they don’t know what they’re doing.”
Under Assembly Bill 1680, a new state law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the public will be able to access the beaches by land by April of 2022.
The legislation comes after almost 40 years of efforts to try and open the beaches, because property owners had fought to keep the land private.