In California, no one really owns the beach, not even the owners of huge, multi-million dollar homes that hover menacingly atop the sand. State law enables anyone to sit down or pass freely along the area of beach below the “mean high tide line” (the strip of sand that’s usually wet). But in towns like Malibu–coastal enclaves of extreme wealth–homeowners often treat the beach like it’s their personal front yard and keep public passersby from “trespassing” by locking gates, erecting false private property signs, or even siccing security guards on beach-goers.
A new app that just surpassed its $30,000 Kickstarter fundraising goal hopes to “open up the legendary 27 miles of Malibu beaches once and for all” by providing detailed tips on how to access Malibu’s secret public beaches that have long been treated as private.
“There’s no such thing as an all-private beach in California,” says the environmental activist and beach enthusiast Jenny Price, who collaborated with developer team Escape Apps to make the app. “There’s 20 miles of these really gorgeous public beaches that are lined with private development and every single one of those beaches there’s an awful lot of sand that you, I, we can all use and hang out on.”
Called Our Malibu Beaches, the app will give users ways to identify which “No Parking” signs came from the city, and which came from Home Depot. It will reveal obscured entries to different beaches, fake driveways, and faux construction cones. “It even walks you down each beach–house-by-house–to show you where on each beach you can hang all day on the dry sand,” explains the Kickstarter page.
The app could potentially help combat “one of the most egregious examples of privatization of public space in Los Angeles,” as Price told the LA Times. The app will be free to download for the iPhone, and an Android version is in the works.