David Geffen: (Un)Free Man in Malibu

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David Geffen's fight to keep the state of California from requiring him to let people cut across his Malibu home lot to get to the beach appears lost. On Friday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Yaffe threw out Geffen's suit challenging the easement demand California's Coastal Commission is making on him. (The billionaire music mogul can refile on a couple of administrative procedural points.) I wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal on the background of this case, available here.

Although the Supreme Court's famous decision in Nollan v. California Coastal Commission ended the CCC's practice of demanding that landowners "agree" to easements across their property in order to get building permits, apparently the likes of Geffen—who were coerced into such agreements before the 1987 decision—are just going to have to suck it up. Southern Californians made much of the irony of hyperwealthy hyperliberals like Geffen fighting for property rights over public beach access. Geffen may well be a hypocrite, but that doesn't mean his property rights shouldn't be respected by the law.

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  1. What is this nonsense about “proprietarian freedom” and “human freedom”? The libertarian theory of freedom? This poster must be talking about the conflict between individual freedom and collectivist “freedom.” My ability to keep someone from mugging me reduces the amount of collective “freedom,” or in this poster’s words, human freedom. A law against mugging reduces collective “freedom.” A law preventing this poster from mugging me increases individual freedom. A law allowing people to use my car increases human freedom, as defined by this poster. However, under such a regime, no one would be producing, owning, or purchasing cars, so in the real world, such human freedom is a mirage.

  2. It is very hard to feel any sympathy for people like Geffen. Let them reap what they have sown.

  3. This example neatly encapsulates the deficiency in the libertarian theory of freedom.
    Although proprietarian freedom is reduced by the decision, human freedom is increased. One man’s freedom to exclude others in the use of a (naturally provided) asset is many mens unfreedom to be included in the use of same.
    The court’s decision was the right one if you are serious about maximising total freedom, rather than just moralising a part of it.

  4. If I remember correctly Geffen et al are not only opposed to offering access, they also don’t want the public on the beaches, regarding them as their de-facto property.

    Maybe I’m naive, but this should never have gone to the courts. Let some enterprising boat-owners offer to ferry people to the beaches for a small fee and the affair is settled.

  5. Looking at this as an outsider, I am from County Antrim over the water, it amazes me what a wonderful country God has made for you all (I was there last year), and I wonder how much you have paid God for it? And if not, are you not even a little ashamed of coveting it to a degree far beyond your needs?

    With respect.

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