Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay Fined $1.6M For Blocking Public Beach Access

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Marriott affiliated Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay was fined $1.6M on Thursday by the California Coastal Commission. The hotel has been fined twice previously for the same violations.

The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay

The hotel failed (on purpose) to display signs that the beaches were free and open to the public. The hotel had also failed to provide the agreed upon number on parking spots for beach goers.

Here’s an excerpt from the SFGate (access their piece here):

All beaches in California are open to the public, with rare exceptions, but the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Half Moon Bay did not make that clear and at times prevented easy access, the California Coastal Commission ruled, the Mercury News of San Jose reported . Rooms at the hotel can cost $1,000 a night.

The commission also said the hotel about 30 miles south of San Francisco failed to display signs informing the public that beaches are free and open to anyone.

“Perhaps creating the illusion of a private beach helps justify the exorbitant cost of the rooms,” said Mandy Sackett, state policy director for the Surfrider Foundation, an environmental group.

Here an excerpt from the CBS Local (access their piece here):

The hotel also agreed to add more signage that explains which trails and beaches can be accessed through the property.

According to the Coastal Commission, soon after the Ritz Carlton opened in 2001, the public claimed that hotel workers denied use of the public garage parking spaces. Beachgoers reported the hotel would use the spots for valet cars instead.

“It seems like it’s private and it’s not well marked and so a lot of people have stopped using the beaches there,” Savage said.

Time will tell if the hotel follows through with the agreement. The Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay has been fined for the very same issue twice before.

“As taxpayers, we pay for these beaches. They belong to us,” said Savage.

Conclusion

Glad that the California Coastal Commission fine was high enough for the hotel to take action. It had previously been fined twice for similar violations without success

It is important that the public has access to the beaches that essentially belong to them, although these hotels try to portray them as being semiprivate.

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