‘Privatizing the coast’: are wealthy Californians seizing public beaches?

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As some try to seal off stretches of coastline for private use, the state wants to tackle a growing divide between rich and poor

Privates Beach is named not for its exclusivity but for a permissive attitude toward nude sunbathing. This small patch of paradise on the California coastline is adored by locals, and anyone is welcome to enjoy the clean and quiet spot. If, that is, they have a key costing $100 a year.

A 9ft iron gate blocks the path to a beach staircase, set among expensive hillside homes in the tony surf town of Santa Cruz, south of San Francisco. Yet by California law, all the beaches along its 840 alluring miles of coastline belong to the people, and the state is cracking down at Privates and elsewhere in a push to mitigate a growing divide between rich and poor.

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