Geffen settles over Malibu beach access


SAN DIEGO -- The commission that regulates California's coast settled a decades-long dispute with David Geffen over public access to the beach in front of his Malibu estate.

The California Coastal Commission agreed Wednesday to forgive Geffen for building a deck that intruded into a public easement. In exchange Geffen agreed to open a stretch of beach in front of his home that had been closed to the public.

Commissioners allowed the 63-year-old entertainment mogul to keep a wooden stairway to the beach. They also gave him a privacy buffer so the public cannot legally intrude on his property.

The decision comes 24 years after Geffen first promised a public walkway to Malibu's Carbon Beach. The legal skirmishes over Geffen's reluctance to give the public access to the beach near his home inspired headlines across the U.S. and in Europe.

In addition to the new access point, the DreamWorks co-founder agreed to pay $125,000 to a special state public beach access fund to help build a metal ramp so the public can get from the pathway to the sand.

Geffen's attorney, Steven A. Amerikaner, said his client "is very happy."

"We have entered a new era, an era of cooperation," Amerikaner said.

Public access to the state's shoreline is a major issue for the Coastal Commission, which was meeting this week in San Diego.