SANTA CRUZ — A popular North Santa Cruz County beach once known for its clothing optional rules is under contract to be sold to an unknown buyer, leaving many fretting about what will become of the property.
Land Trust of Santa Cruz County Executive Director Steven Slade made the announcement about Red, White and Blue Beach Tuesday.
“This means that the last private beach in the county will be used by a few, not by the many,” Slade said. “The news is a bummer. For almost two years we have tried to save this beach.”
Owned by 10 members of the Edwards family, the beach was for years a draw for those willing to make the drive to the northern outskirts of the county, and then make the mile-long trek through coastal scrub and redwood trees.
Those days ended in 2006 when the family closed the nudist campground.
Nestled next to Wilder Ranch, the 177-acre property includes five acres of beach and dunes and 35 acres of redwoods.
The owners were ordered by the court to put the property up for sale after they were unable to agree what to do with it, Slade said.
In an attempt to preserve the land and protect it from development, the Land Trust offered the full appraised value of $17.5 million, Slade said.
Slade said that his organization was hoping to keep the property open to the public, and perhaps offer tent camping for visitors who come for the hiking and beach.
“It has everything that makes this county special, and we would like the county to be able to share it,” he said.
But the organization’s attempt to purchase the land fell through when the buyer offered more than $6 million over the land Trust’s offer.
“We don’t know who the buyer is,” Slade said. “We’re in the dark.”
Slade said that he hopes the sale will fall through when the buyers realize the limits of what can be done to property in a coastal zone.
“We can hope and we will keep trying,” he said.
Editor's Note: This article will be published in the April 19 edition of the Register-Pajaronian. Reach Todd Guild at 831-761-7327.