SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. - It's a big win for local hikers. The California Coastal Commission unanimously ruled against a property owner in San Luis Obispo County, demanding that they tear down fencing and signs restricting access to a popular hiking trail near Avila Beach and Shell Beach.
The Ontario Ridge Trail is very popular due to it's breathtaking views along the coast, but an area where the hiking trail begins in Avila Beach is surrounded by barbed-wire fencing. The fencing was put in several months back by property owners Robert and Judith McCarthy of Bakersfield. People cut it down in some places and continue to hike there, but now the fencing will be no more.
The California Coastal Commission had it's monthly meeting this morning and ruled unanimously in favor of a cease and desist to remove the fencing. The fencing was put up without a permit.
Before the decision this morning, some hikers weighed in on the issue.
"Everyone talks about going on this hike. It's definitely one of the things Cal Poly students really enjoy doing and so it would be sad if we wouldn't be able to do it anymore," said Lauren Henderson and Shannon Abeling, two hikers.
The Coastal Commission staff report says the fencing blocks hikers access to public property and can harm wildlife in the area. Three letters were sent to the McCarthy's earlier this year to take the fencing down, but they were ignored.
Due to a newly enacted law, the Coastal Commission couldn't impose a fine on the McCarthy's. But if they don't comply with the cease and desist order, that could certainly change.