Lincoln County Commissioners, saying that want to preserve whatever public access there is to local beaches, told two beach-front property owners in Lincoln Beach they cannot ban the public from walking along a designated public path to the beach even if they don’t like people walking so close to their homes.
The five foot wide dedicated public pathway was created by the original developer of a neighborhood created around Pacific and Lincoln Avenues. Neighbors had access to the pathway until it was paved and landscaped over and a small wall-riser built across it as part of an erosion control effort. The bluff homeowners admitted building the riser and installing landscaping but only out of fear of vandalism and other problems if the public continued to have access to the path. They also pointed out that the path emerges on a small hilltop that overlooks a 20 foot drop -off to the beach, which raises safety concerns.
However, a couple of neighbors a few streets over said the public easement belongs to the public and is enforced by the county and that the two neighbors bordering the pathway should allow the path to be re-established. In the end that was the order of the county commission, all three commissioners saying that even though there is an access problem beyond the path, the neighbors wanting access can ban together and come up with temporary stairs or some other device that could get people safely up and down the bluff. They also said the low retaining wall built across the mouth of the path could act as an anchor point for the temporary or seasonal stairway.
County Commissioner Bill Hall said that it has always been the policy of the Lincoln County Commission to bend over backwards to preserve public access to Lincoln County’s spectacular beaches, even when access isn’t easy. Hall said “I don’t want to do anything that would preclude eventual full access to the beach since there are solutions out there the neighbors could develop.” The vote to preserve the public access pathway was unanimous. The bluff neighbors said they will cooperate with the neighborhood to re-establish the pathway.