Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

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Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop
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By Doug Kern, Executive Director of the Gaviota Coast Conservancy

The California Coastal Commission will hold a workshop on the DRAFT Hollister Ranch Coastal Access Program in a virtual meeting on the morning of Thursday, October 14, 2021. This program was developed by State agencies/commissions and stakeholders under legislation authored by State Senator Monique Limón.

The creation of the Coastal Trail along the entire length of the California coastline is an important objective of the Coastal Commission. Locally, the issue of public access to Hollister Ranch has been festering for many decades. In 1982 the California Coastal Commission produced the Hollister Ranch Access Plan which outlined the general location of the California Coastal Trail and specific beach access points through the 8.5 miles of Hollister Ranch coastline. The County of Santa Barbara, in its 1982 Local Coastal Plan, placed the coastal trail through Hollister Ranch on the beach or proximate to it, a location that was also aspired to in the Santa Barbara County’s 2016 Gaviota Coast Plan. Fast forward almost 40 years and none of this trail has been realized due to the persistent, aggressive opposition of the Hollister Ranch Owners’ Association to public access. 

The Draft Hollister Ranch Draft Coastal Access Plan proposes a phased, managed access program that begins with planning, progresses to a maximum of 100 people a day for several years when the impacts and mitigations of the visitations are carefully monitored, and ultimately, over a number of years, could expand, but never beyond 500 people a day. Such an expansion needs to carefully assess the impacts to coastal and cultural resources. 

Unfettered and unlimited public access has never been proposed for the Ranch. Trail advocates respect the relatively unspoiled character of the Ranch Coastline and the private property rights of the landowners. However, there is a public sentiment, expressed by both the State and the County of Santa Barbara, to provide appropriate and respectful access to Hollister Ranch. Indeed, the right of citizens to access the shoreline is enshrined in the California State Constitution. 

You can download the DRAFT Hollister Ranch Coastal Access Program here: https://documents.coastal.ca.gov/reports/2021/10/Th4/Th4-10-2021report.pdf

The California Coastal Commission invites public comments at the virtual meeting on Thursday, October 14, beginning between 9:30 – 10:00.

Submit Written Comments: Your comments are read by Commissioners and are influential. 

Best to submit written comments by email to Hollister@coastal.ca.gov.

You can also submit materials by regular mail to the Coastal Commission at 725 Front Street, Suite 300, Santa Cruz, CA 95060.  All mail received by 5 pm on Friday, October 8 will be distributed to the Commission. Any mailed materials received after this time will be placed in the file but will not be distributed to the Commission.

Speaker Instructions:
If you wish to speak to the Coastal Commission, you must fill out a speaker slip no later than 8:30 AM on Thursday, October 14 (speaker slips may be submitted the day before, which will streamline this process). We recommend signing up now for your opportunity to speak.

Please keep in mind that your time to speak will be limited, generally from 2 to 3 minutes, as determined by the Chair of the Coastal Commission. If you wish to show a 2-to-3 minute visual presentation that does not exceed 25 MB in size, it must be submitted by 5 PM Wednesday, October 13. Detailed instructions are located here:


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Babycakes Oct 08, 2021 08:59 AM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

"Never over 500 people a day." In the near future we can expect to read articles like "Volunteers Remove 3300 lbs if trash from Hollister Ranch beaches" ... "Illegal Campers burn X number of acres at HR" ... "Dolphin chokes on diaper at HR" ... "Used Needles found ..." HR is going to be forever changed in a bad way....just like Red Rock.

SBTownie Oct 08, 2021 09:39 AM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

Exactly right. Also I think it's hilarious they say that 500 people a day will not be "unfettered" access. 100 is more understandable, even though I am opposed entirely.

For any detractors - no, I am not an owner in HR. I have never even been there. I like the idea of keeping some unspoiled places unspoiled. Sadly the tragedy of the commons is all too real and the public cannot control itself when it comes to trashing places.

letmego Oct 08, 2021 10:33 AM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

I guess I don't see that as a given. With only 100 people a day (max 500), it can relatively easily be addressed with permits and reservations, much like some of our National parks or areas along the Pacific Crest Trail. (I too think 500 is excessive.) Registration and identification should cut down on the scofflaws, because they know where to find you.

HR is amazing. I have been there a couple of times (a friend of mine used to work on a ranch there). I can see the desire to keep it unspoiled, but a minimal number of daily permits can manage that.

d8vanilla Oct 08, 2021 09:22 AM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

I agree with BABYCAKES 100% right- on.... I could add a few more things to their list .... like vandals stealing property, Graffiti , the noise, loss of privacy, loss of value to their house / property,
I just don't understand, why they want access to that area..... aren't there plenty of OPEN beaches for them to access????

SBTownie Oct 08, 2021 09:42 AM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

Back in the day I used to think granting access to HR was a good idea. I was behind the concept that all Californians should have access to the coast.

Fast forward 10 or so years and I am over it. Lock it up and throw away the key. The tragedy of the commons plays out at every turn. The way people trash places, harrass wildlife, and turn every beautiful and unspoiled locale into an Instagram moment or a party spot is just depressing. Let's keep it semi-wild. HR types are kind of a special crew. Yeah, there might be a lot of rich dude owners, but they're the quiet and unassuming types. Not the flashy types we see driving around our town and Montecito now.

If you want to go to HR you can paddle board in, walk in at very low tides throughout the year, or boat in. It's not illegal to access the beach. I think HR residents are right in wanting to keep people away and it's cynical to think their only motivation would be to be exclusionary for exclusion sake, or to protect their property value.

Leave it closed. Leave it as wild as it is now.

bosco Oct 08, 2021 11:17 AM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

Couldn't agree with this statement more. I too used to be on board with opening it up. Now, having the opportunity to visit HR a few times I can really see how special this place is. There are too few places like this left in the world, let alone in California. Going there feels like going back in time. To a place where nature ruled over civilization and not the other way around. Going there you feel an extra special level of responsibility to the land. This will be lost on the general public. This has turned into a class argument when it should really be about preservation.

SBTownie Oct 08, 2021 11:38 AM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

I feel similarly about the Channel Islands. I'm glad a huge part of them is basically totally off limits to the public. We do enjoy camping and visiting there, but I hope they remain extremely restricted for eternity. It's one of the only places I have been in the 21st century where I truly felt like I was stepping back in time and could be alone. It's precious and beautiful.

Not sure if anyone here has seen the fantastic documentary on our Islands called West of the West. It is available on Amazon Prime. In it, there is a part where someone says "if you love it, don't go there." That really struck me when I first saw the doc (maybe 5 years ago) and hit me again when I recently rewatched it now that it's on Prime. In the span on a few years, my entire stance on visiting "nature" has changed. Our National Parks are overrun (read any article about how out of control visits to Yellowstone were this summer), and there are so few places left where wilderness can truly be wild.

HR is far from "truly wild." Let's face it, it's got cattle and people do live and visit there. But it's a lot d*mn closer to what nature intended than our other beaches. Nature needs a place to be wild and left alone. Even the peaceful presence of quiet people are enough to disturb numerous wild species natural activities, including breeding.

The right for citizens to be able to access all of California's coast was a noble idea with good intentions, but it has outlived its usefulness and is a policy that desperately needs to be reassessed in the face of ever increasing encroachment into wild habitat. It no longer seems "progressive," and rather comes across as downright un-environmental.

Alexblue Oct 08, 2021 01:35 PM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

I agree with keeping it closed to minimize impact, though the owners have been trashing those beaches for the last forty years by driving all over them.

However, they've changed that, mostly because they saw which way the wind was blowing and late in the game decided to get on the right side of environmental protection, so, yeah, good on them.

Beyond that, "quiet unassuming types" and "it's not illegal to access the beach."

I'm sorry, that's laughable. HR owners have been threatening and harassing people who even dare to legally boat in and surf "their" waves. They've destroyed peoples' belongings (surfboards), threatened to cut anchor lines, and basically done everything possible to keep US Citizens from legally enjoying OUR resources. So, yeah, I want to see that area protected, but gotta be honest, part of me feels like, F them.

And, yeah, I've boated in many times to HR and points West.

Babycakes Oct 08, 2021 03:56 PM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

AlexBlue: Consider not going to HR if you think it's such a bad idea. Certainly keep the smug "I am better than you" attitude away from the place. I'm guessing you are okay with ruining the vibe. Maybe keep the Leadbetter/Hendry's attitude to yourself if you want the hoards to trash and ruin HR. Juss sayin'....

Alexblue Oct 08, 2021 05:20 PM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

Ruining the "vibe"? LOL. You've never been there, I have. Many times. My vibe is pure aloha in the water, I am all about sharing and looking out for my fellow water people. I'm not about harassing and threatening people and destroying private property which the HR owners have been doing for years (uh, Gaviota Hoist being vandalized multiple times? Anyone? Anyone?)

Here's another question you'll never answer, I know you love that, exactly what is the "Leadbetter/Hendry's" vibe?

fitz Oct 08, 2021 09:54 AM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

I too think opening up Hollister Ranch is a very bad idea. I don't live there and have no skin in this game. But I do agree with what has been said above about trash and other problems. Hollister owners have been good stewards of the land (and sea). Interesting that the Coastal Comm. wants to get more of the Coastal trail along there while there are many property owners further south that absolutely refuse to allow a trail on their property............so they don't have to but Hollister Ranch owners do?

bad427 Oct 08, 2021 11:15 AM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

Of course, the state is going to pave the road, install a new 2 lane bridge. Put signals and stop signs and maintain all of it,also they will pick up all the trash and dirty diapers and plastic.

Transparent Oct 08, 2021 11:43 AM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

California's public coast is the best idea the state has ever had. Access is fundamental to that.

If you're in doubt, go visit places that don't have strong protections for public use and public access routes to beaches. That's the real tragedy of the commons... thousands of miles of unused or underused natural beauty, open only to those on multi-million dollar properties.

dukemunson Oct 08, 2021 11:52 AM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

Transparent - But now that we have access to almost all of the coast...must we truly push to get access to all? This isn't an all or nothing issue...it's an "all" or "mostly all" situation...and frankly I'm agreeing with the arguments that mostly all (so not opening Hollister) makes more sense.

a-1633720178 Oct 08, 2021 12:09 PM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

The coast is public and access is available, even at Hollister Ranch. Why does every stretch of coast need a paved access road with parking and bathroom facilities?

Byzantium Oct 08, 2021 11:50 AM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

Time to audit the mission, successes and failures of the Calif Coastal Commission. So often voters pass ballot initiatives that sound like a good idea; but the goals quickly get lost in bureaucracy, high-handed conduct, growing costs and unintended mission creep. While money and power continue to pour in with little or no accountability into these types of quasi-independent operations and political appointment sink holes. Significant numbers of coastal access corridors were established, appropriate protections put in place and the material over-development of coastal California has been halted - all good. But after a few decades it is time to claim mission accomplished before the CCC devolves, into insidious and self-protective mission creep. Sunset provisions, along with full range public auditing need to be part of all state ballot initiatives. Most "good ideas" like this have a limited lifespan before inertia and inside politics take over and they become failed politicians safe harbors. Kudo's to the CCC which at the time was badly needed and the people rose up and demanded coastal protections. Now they look like an agency in search of cause and borderline petty and punitive carrying out smoother social agenda well beyond the initial intent.

CanyonKid Oct 08, 2021 12:04 PM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

The plan is terrible. I hope everyone locally attends the meeting and voices opposition. If not, please submit a comment by email to the state, telling them to stop the plan.

They are proposing a major costal development project, with no money and no property rights...and NO ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW.

It's crazy, literally. On the same level of crazy: the Gaviota Conservancy actually supports the plan of destruction. What a self-serving joke of an organization it is.

SantaBarbaraObserver Oct 08, 2021 12:57 PM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

Sticky subject. On one side are the hyper protective, self interested parcel and parcel % owners who want to keep the private access to public land that they have had for decades... On the other side is the State constitution. Guess which one will win?

As for the fact that people will destroy this place. Of course they will. People suck. But guess what? They already did. There is a heavily used railroad, countless old oil derricks and wells, (some capped, some not, some known, some not), a few hundred homes with every conceivable amenity and thousands upon thousands of cattle. It is not exactly the pristine and natural place that they want you to believe. Its beautiful, with lots of open space, but natural it is not.

Dont forget HR borders the incredible Dangermound rancho gift which borders Jalama State Park to its north. There is a lot of land set aside forever that most people will never set foot upon. Except maybe for ZeroHawk, he's been to every part of 'there' more times than we can count...

Voice of Reason Oct 08, 2021 01:22 PM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

There is nothing in the State constitution against having private access to public land, there is also no constitutional violation in having public beaches (they are all public) that are only accessible via the water or via the beach at lower tides. The state could use their constitutional powers via eminent domain as indicated in the access plan, but that would be a horrendous waste of resources that would be much better spent elsewhere facilitating equitable access to CA coast, like improving existing facilities/access points, making them more accessible, even fixing the boat hoist at Gaviota State Park that historically provided easy access to the entire stretch of Hollister coast and far beyond.

Cabomark Oct 09, 2021 06:58 AM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

This is a BAD idea. Turning this into a State Park will ruin the coastal areas. Whether it's 100 or 500 allowed in , there are not enough park rangers to insure that this coastal gem stays pristine. As someone else said, it will create a Disneyland of some of our last wild coast. The limited access to this point is what has kept HR beautiful. Adding public access and "facilities" will be something that we will regret 10 years down the line when this coastal area looks more like an overcrowded over-developed So Cal beach area. How did this proposal get passed in the first place ? We should re-think why we elected those people.....

Luvaduck Oct 09, 2021 07:36 AM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

I'm not a surfer or a rancher or owner of anything in that area, but it's clear to me that if there is public access, the public will come, and my experience is that the area will be seriously degraded. What's the point of opening the last bit of relatiely pristine coastal area to that? Politicians and what's yours is mine racers to the lowest common denominator: Let it be!

Stuart Oct 09, 2021 07:56 AM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

Any complaining is worthless and too late now. The gates are opening in 2022 so the energy you all have should be put to voicing opinions as to how best manage the incoming. The H.R. land use attorneys, HRHOA, the state, and other vested groups are in planning stages and now is the time to make/plead your case as to your vision of access. Sorry zero access will not be the outcome so
use this time to be constructive. There are ways to ensure minimal impact, but it takes voices of logic to get what you are looking for and the last chance is less than a week away on 10.14.21.

biguglystick Oct 09, 2021 08:32 AM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

Don't do this! Don't let them open Hollister Ranch! This is a jewel on our coast. This land deserves to be preserved and protected. Like many commenters on here, as a life long beach goer and ocean person, I used to be for opening up HR, not anymore! We should be talking about how to preserve this precious land. Letting in the general public is NOT the way to go!

SantaBarbaraObserver Oct 09, 2021 09:16 AM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

Go to Point Sal. You will not see more than a couple people most days and on some days, not a soul... its been open to the public for decades. Does opening up to the public always bring in a lot of people? Maybe, but then again most people are fat, lazy and not willing to do the work.

HR's battle is about surfing. The (my daddy's really rich) local boys are the real problem up there. They grew up entitled and empowered and took that "locals only" vibe way too far... The entire defense against opening up the Ranch is to keep the waves exclusive. It has nothing to do with the views or the land. Both of which are easily compared to the other open spaces that are both accessible and nearby.

tMo Oct 09, 2021 10:29 AM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

Bad, sad idea. I don't own a parcel and have only been there a handful of times, but I still would prefer it be kept private. It is one of the very few pristine California coastlines left, and it exists because it is private. The beach is public and always has been, if you put in the effort. Over and over I have seen what easy public access does to a place.
IT RUINS IT! Lazy people don't respect nature.

PitMix Oct 11, 2021 11:30 AM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

100 people a day at 4 to 6 beaches is 25 to 16.5 people per beach. The people likely to make the effort to shuttle into one of those beaches are not the type to trash them once they get there. The rich people will still have almost exclusive access to their beaches and be able to drive their SUV's on the beach at the end of the day. Maybe their service people will actually be able to visit one of the beaches?

Yeah, Chicken Littles, the sky is NOT falling.

bungiesurf Oct 13, 2021 11:28 AM
Hollister Ranch Access Program CCC Workshop

Last week NYT featured an article about 20 new species being added to the Endangered Species List. We are in an extinction crisis and for some reason, we don't recognize the massive role that coastlines play in providing essential habitat. Cultural resource and biodiversity surveys both point out the intact nature of the HR coastline, as compared to other parts of CA. Our most successful examples of successful management of important natural areas are where we use a full matrix of activity zoning. For example, the Sierra mountains have easily access parks for recreation coupled with hard to get to wilderness areas, which keeps the human impact low. The notion of increasing human access while trying to "manage" against impacts to natural and cultural resources is flawed - and there are endless examples of that. There is nothing wrong with keeping some public natural areas hard to get to for the sake of keeping them more intact and quiet for nature. This also adds to the diversity of human experience available - it is a miracle that one can still hike, sail, kayak, boat to relatively undisturbed areas of the southern california coastline. We still have "wild coasts" - do we really want to change that? The decisions California makes about access here should be done from the perspective of what would best benefit future generations -what we want with this last intact coastal area. The decision should not be done out of spite or to settle the score with HR. The CCC has the ability to dole out punishment for actions that are violations against the CA Coastal Act - if it needs to take action against HR, it should use that mechanism. But this access plan is being done as part of a new state law AB 1680 - in that work we should prioritize leaving the legacy of intact cultural resources and coastal biodiversity to the next generation over more convenient recreational access for our immediate pleasure.

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