In Realtorspeak, the term “steps to the beach” is often used to describe any property south of 10th Street. My house is about 35 blocks north of the Pacific, and theoretically, I could take the sufficient steps to eventually reach the beach.
Today’s featured property is actually on the beach. It’s steps from being not on the beach. The land covers nearly a quarter of an acre of seacoast and stretches from what would be 13th Place to close to what would be 14th Place if both of those places slid down the bluff all the way past the bike path. And it’s directly in front of the 16-story Queen’s Surf condominium complex, where owners and would-be owners are assured by Realtors without hyperbole that they’re “steps from the beach.”
“Well, not this beach,” you might wind up barking at condo owners who try to cross your property, hauling towels, chairs, umbrellas, inflatable cartoon characters and coolers to get to the water or the more public areas of the beach.
The chunk of the beach went up for sale at $2 million last August and went unsold through the summer and on through the Christmas season. It’s now on the market for just $1 million.
What else can you do with the land besides just slather yourself up with Coppertone until you get a rich and perhaps malignant, chestnut tan?
The possibilities are limited only by your imagination, as well as by the city’s zoning regulations and the California Coastal Commission’s tendency to look askance at anyone monkeying around near the state’s oceans.
“From a practical standpoint that lot appears not to have vehicular access and to be entirely on the sandy soils and adjacent to the public beach,” said Christopher Koontz, the city’s director of Development Services. “Future development would be difficult and limited.”
Indeed, not to mention hauling in electricity, plumbing and sewage, cables for internet and TV, gas and all the other things your typical house has hooked up to in order to make life more pleasant than just sitting on the beach all day reading a Daniel Silva novel.
The sandy lot is listed by Re/MAX Realtor Gretta Sheffer Minnema, one of the more pleasant agents I’ve run across. She asked me if I’d like to write up an offer, a reasonable enough question given the sort of money a real estate writer pulls down in this still-bullish market. I wondered if, as the listing photo indicates, the property includes a stretch of the bike path. She told me that the picture shows that it does, so she expects that it does.
Koontz, however, said that it does not, which makes me decide not to write up an offer since my only hope of recouping my investment would be to charge a toll to people using my stretch of road: 50 cents for pedestrians; dogs and kids pass through for free on weekdays; $1 for ordinary, unsponsored cyclists, and a hard $130 for cyclists wearing so much as a trace of Lycra. I’m a reasonable man.
How does a chunk of beach even end up on the market in the first place?
Back in the olden days (wake up, this is important) a lot of people could buy parts of the beach, especially on the East Beach (the part that’s east of the Belmont Pier), where you can still see some homes on the beach. Over time, the city has bought up many of the privately owned parcels. Several years ago, the owner of a home on the beach at the 5400 block of Ocean gave the city several thousand square feet of beach, with the provision that the city would do nothing to impede the view of the ocean from the house, which is why the bike path ends just west of the house.
The lot that’s for sale now may not be of particular interest to the city if for no other reason, as Koontz points out, than that Long Beach is expecting a multimillion-dollar budget deficit next year. And, he says, he’s at a loss about what could be done with the lot.
I swung by just to get the feel of the place, in the event that I might want to write up an offer and, as a personal beach, it was an OK place to sit on a towel with a book and watch the free-loading pedestrians and cyclists cruise through my potential property. It’s not much of a sandy beach. There’s some weeds and ice plant and a squat little volunteer palm tree which gives it a bit of a tiki vibe. It was OK for a few minutes, but it just didn’t feel like home.
And after I left to go back to work, I had to climb a long, steep staircase to get up the bluff to Ocean. I’m not going to want to do that every day, or perhaps ever again, and if you decide to buy this bit of beach for yourself, you should immediately offer a resident from the adjacent condo complex a reciprocal deal: They can use your beach if you can use their elevator.