- Associated Press - Saturday, July 2, 2016

MALIBU, Calif. (AP) - The operators of the Paradise Cove restaurant in Malibu came under investigation again for charging people access to its nearby public beach and pier.

State regulators began investigating last month complaints from beachgoers that the restaurant was charging $20 “daily beach club membership” fee to access the shore, The Los Angeles Times reported (http://lat.ms/29klq7U ).

The California Coastal Commission threatened in a June 16 letter to Kissel Co., which operates as Paradise Cove Land Co., to impose up to $11,250 in fines per day for blocking public access.

A message seeking comment from the company has not been returned Saturday.

The company has since complied with the law, and its website no longer mentions any membership fees, The Times said.

Public trails to the beach have been blocked in a number of Southern California coastal communities, and the fines have been an effective tool in ensuring access, said Andrew Willis, an enforcement supervisor for the commission.

In 2014, the commission sent a letter telling Kissel it was violating state law by posting signs banning surfing and surfboards and closing the pier behind a locked gate. The commission threatened hefty daily fines.

The owner agreed to stop charging a walk-in fee, remove all signs banning surfing and unlock a gate to the beach’s pier shortly after.

“People think of gates and fences, but there are other ways to chip away at access - fake garages, access fees, ‘no parking’ signs,” Willis said.

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