Many Pescaderans questioned Loren Coburn’s extreme actions, expressly the locking of the gate to beloved Pebble Beach and all of its special, shiny stones. Did he have the legal right to do that?
The local’s next move was to petition the county’s board of supervisors, to ask them to condemn a road on Coburn’s land that led to the beach. This road had been freely used for five years and could not be closed without special approval from the board.
One Pescaderan explained that the road in question was “supposed to be on neutral or government ground. The result will interest every man, woman and child within 20 miles of Pescadero, in fact, it will interest citizens in many states throughout the country.”
As in any tug-of-war case, there has to be sides. The Pescaderans said that the beach and its pebbles were located below the high water mark, said to be government tide land.
Loren Coburn had tired of people crossing his land to get to the beach. He objected, he said, to people staking out 40 horses at a time to pick the lucious strawberries that grew there. He viewed them as trespassers, complaining that the berry pickers came in “mobs of 60 or 70.”
He also complained that he had rented the land to dairy farmers James Wilson and John Montevaldo but they refused to renew their lease because of all the horse and foot traffic. But when asked to confirm the story, Wilson and Montevaldo said they did not renew the lease because the price was much too high.
It was all so confusing because Loren Coburn had once said that visitors who didn’t trample the berries were welcome to visit Pebble Beach. All they had to do was ask for permission, and pay an entrance fee. The last part didn’t sit well with the Pescaderans.
The County newspaper explained: “…Mr Coburn is perfectly willing that anybody who will be careful not to injure any of his property should go to the beach and all they have to do is to ask for the key and they will get it. How does that statement correspond with the following facts: Mr. Coburn was called upon by Mr. Alex Moore, the pioneer settler of Pescadero, and Supervisor Henry B. Adair, to define his position. He states emphatically that strangers coming here would be carried to the beach [from his stable, of course, to avoid the question of toll] for 75 cents per head. Mr. Moore asked, ‘What in regard to our women and children?’ to which Mr. Coburn replied that ‘they had no business there…'”