Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Line in the Sand...
...go ahead! Step across this line! I double-dog-dare ya!!!

You've heard that old cartoonish line used in old movies where one opponent is squaring off against his (most-of-the-time weaker) opponent. It's that old case of "territorial imperative" we have brewing right here in our little town. Seems that someone's gonna be drawing a line in the sand soon at Sanders' Beach. Why? To determine where beachgoers' rights end and the property owners' rights begin. They don't know exactly where the line is gonna be, though. But it's gotta be there somewhere, right? A decision has been made by some judge to uphold the elevation of 2,130 feet above sea level at Sanders' Beach as being the dividing point between public and private property. The people who live in big expensive houses on Lakeshore Drive own property across the street, bordering the beach. And, they're saying they own the beach, too. Not only do they own open spaces of grassy property right on the waterfront, which is divided from the beach by sea walls, they're saying the beach in front of their sea walls is theirs, too. And that's the rub...

Area beachgoers (who will never be able to afford lakefront property) have been using the beach for DECADES. Until fairly recently, that was okay, until finally some rich miserly old homeowner got MILITANT about the whole thing and began kicking swimmers of "his" (or what he thought was "his") beach. Well, the new ruling says swimmers can use the beach up to an elevation of 2,130 feet. Allegedly, the bottom of one of the sea walls is precisely at that elevation. Most of them are "up" a little further. I can just envision an exhausted swimmer, with barely a spark of life left in him, washing up on "somebody's" beach, only to get kicked off and tossed back in the lake. And I wouldn't put it past those Lakeshore Drive property owners, either. So, where will the 2,130 ft. elevation line be drawn? How will they mark it? It's in the SAND, after all. Supposedly, this will all be done and some sort of 'barrier' will be in place at the beach by July 4th. What's next? Guard towers?

If the property owners have their way, (and it looks like they might) their separate stretches of beach will be enjoyed by no one, really (not counting pinkie-extended outdoor champagne brunches held by the property owners whose grassy land, across the street from their homes, borders what they believe to be "their" beach). Well, don't give up, folks. There is always the stretch of Sanders Beach which extends eastward from the Jewett House, to the overpriced CDA Rezzort Golf Course, which has a fence of its own on the the far east end of the beach. My advice to beachgoers would be, "enjoy that stretch of beach while you can, before that, too, gets taken away." Money talks, after all, and there's money in them thar big homes between the Jewett House and the CDA Rezzort golf course. Let me tell you a lil' true story...

One sunny afternoon last fall (I think it was late September), I was sitting on that little 2-foot high brick 'retaining' wall that is in front of the fence at the Jewett House, playing my guitar. No one was on the beach at all. All of a sudden, a guy in a polyester shirt and slacks, with STREET SHOES on, came walking up from the EAST end of the beach, (where'd HE come from?, I wondered) and didn't say a word to me as he passed. I had a feeling he didn't like me being there. There are some pretty ritzy houses on the properties between the Jewett House and the Golf Course, you know. Did he think I was "threatening riff-raff"? Maybe I'm paranoid (which is entirely possible) but I can't help but think he was a disapproving rich corporate yuppie who was wondering where the guitar noise was coming from. All this occurred in broad daylight, in the mid-afternoon. And I suppose that if he and the rest of the homeowners on Lakeshore Drive have their way, this is what will soon be seen down there...



...will this stretch of beach be next? Look, I am all for staying off of private property, but this is a small stretch of beach bordering a public waterway. No homeowner is being threatened if people use the beach which is at least 100 feet away, across the street from his house! Can't we all just get along?
____________________

I don't go to Sanders Beach often, but somehow the thought of swimming privileges being taken away from the public hits me wrong, especially since so much of Coeur d'Alene Lake's shoreline is privately owned now!

6 Comments:

Blogger Word Tosser said...

This came up on HBO before they had comment section... and I emailed DFO, that he will be doing the same as I did with my children.
There was the waterfront that all of us kids could walk up and down the docks. We could walk from the park with a beach to town by going on the beach area and dock area. In 1979, I took my kids downtown to show them the docks where we had our boats and etc. The closest we could get was the chain link fence. So there we stood with our fingers hooked around the fence, looking thru. It was all portion off by the Newport Yacheting Association. Memembers only. And that is the way Sanders Beach would be.. I told DFO that in about 5 years or so, he will take his grandchild down to show them Sanders Beach to be greeted by a sign saying Members/homeowners only and a fence.
On the East coast the rule is .up to 2 feet above highwater mark, was public...rest was homeowner & etc. So you could go there and walk,but you may be walking under someone's dock and you better keep going fast.

9:09 AM  
Blogger little ol' me said...

DFO excerpted the paragraph about me playing guitar on the beach and put it in Huckleberries. A lady commenter said, "you got upset because a nicely dressed guy walked by?" Either she had one hell of an attitude problem or she didn't read my ENTIRE post, which DFO linked to. If she had read my entire post, she would've seen what "context" I put that little story into. Sheesh!
____________________

Hi, CIS...keep tossing them words. This whole situation reminds me of an old pop song that went, "There's a chain around the flowers...a fence around the trees...". In the end, NONE of us can OWN the land. We all just use it for a while, and then die off.

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Michelle said...

This is a tough one for me. On the one hand, the public should be able to enjoy the lake and beach equally along with everyone else. On the other hand if I paid *any* sum of money to have some privacy and a piece of heaven to call my own, I would not appreciate others coming in and intruding on that solitude. I imagine that it is the few jerks who are obnoxious/inconsiderate that ruin it for everyone. I think also that to talk about this in terms of the wealthy vs the common folk is missing the point and probably fueling the flames so to speak. I have know many folks in my life who were by no means rich and didn't want anyone on their property and had a shotgun to back it up! This happens everywhere in regards to hunting,fishing, etc...

Our family used to own 40 acres out in the cougar gulch area (Mica hill-now a develpment) and our property bodered that of an old german guy. He didn't want *anyone* on his property for any reason and set out bear traps all along the border in case one of us thought we might cross the fence for any reason. We used to get all bent out of shape about this but we soon understood it to a point as we found garbage,vandelism and dead animals on our propery from some folks who thought it was a good place to party. It's a tough one. Public/private land and rights. I guess we now have an idea of how some of the Native Americans felt when most of their land and rights were taken away...

9:28 PM  
Blogger little ol' me said...

Hello, Michelle, thank you for your insightful comment. I do wish to respond to it...anymore, the "rich" have the land, the power and the money. The Poor Folks today can't afford to buy a piece of paradise the way that old grouchy German guy did. I'm not saying all rich people are mean, or that all poor people are deserving; I'm just saying that our lakefront is being gobbled up by people with MONEY. I read somewhere that 85% of Coeur d'Alene Lake's shoreline is owned by out-of-staters. Which means that Joe Bluecollar and his family can't hardly find a good place to get to the lake anymore. Well, it turns out that all of the "Joe Bluecollars" out there are the backbone of the community; paying taxes, working the "grunt" jobs for low wages, and what do they get for their perseverance and endurance? They get Sanders Beach taken away from them. I know all about the rights of property owners. Yet, look at the grassy strips of land just west of City Beach. I have heard NO controversy over that strip of land; the grass is privately owned, yet the residents there let people use the beach. I think with wealth comes responsibility; in the form of "how much am I screwing my fellow man, and maybe should I turn around and actually be nice to him?" Unfortunately THAT sentiment is fast disappearing from society and I am totally disgusted with the way the world is. If I had a house on Lakeshore drive, yes, I would make it plain that I own the property. I would say, "don't come up onto my grassy fenced area, but use the beach ALL YOU WANT." And I'd get the satisfaction of knowing that I was appreciated for a postive gesture. But that attitude is disappearing too. I am firmly on the side of the underprivileged and poor people around here. I am one of them. Michelle, I'm sorry if I sounded "testy"; I didn't mean to, but when things get "taken away" from people, it really hits my "hot" button. Take care and thanks for reading the blog.

11:22 PM  
Blogger Bill Sharpe said...

Ok, in my opinion the line between public and private has always "been" (historically) at the one hundred year high water mark on CDA lake and somehow I hope evolution won't change this PERIOD....

7:55 AM  
Blogger little ol' me said...

Bill...wow, you read one of my earlier entries...I don't know what the hundred-year-high-flood-mark level is (would it be in someone's living room on Lakeshore Drive?); I don't care WHO owns the property; I wish that people were mature enough to just GET ALONG. But selfishness and greed run rampant, so the courts have to step in. Sad.

3:35 PM  

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