Vehicular access to Malibu Beach 'boat launch' now closed

A man launched a small vessel into Dorchester Bay from Malibu Beach last summer. Bill Forry photo

A section of Malibu beach that is heavily used by people to launch small boats and jet skis was blocked off from vehicular access with a concrete barrier by state officials on Sept. 11 and is closed "for the remainder of the year."

The move came amid ongoing public safety issues at the state-controlled beaching area that is bisected by Morrissey Boulevard. 

"The measure was taken due to large crowds of people forming at the site not adhering to COVID-19 guidelines and engaging in prohibited activities at the state park (littering, alcohol use, etc.)," explained Troy Wall, a spokesman for the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation. "Both signage and a message board was placed at the site to inform visitors of the closure."

In July, a 43-year-old Dorchester man died when his jet ski— launched from Malibu— slammed into a sailboat at high speed. Neighbors referenced that fatal incident— and other concerns about large outdoor gatherings on both sides of the boulevard beaches— during an online meeting of the Columbia-Savin Hill Civic Association on Tuesday evening. Rep. Dan Hunt was on the Zoom call and fielded questions from about 45 residents, some of whom said they hoped for more State Police presence in the area.

Marta Carney, a Savin Hill neighbor who spoke up during the meeting, noted that “over the weekend, the area was flooded with cars, tents, fire grills and there were all kinds of things going on over there— even with Covid.” 

She added: “Neighbors are really trying to just make it safe over there by requesting the dusk to dawn hours and more police. A lot of neighbors want it to stay open but just enforce the hours.” 

Hunt said that oversight of the beaches in Savin Hill is split between a few jurisdictions.  He said he hopes to convene stakeholders and find a way to “reimagine” the boat ramp area of Malibu as part of a larger re-design of Morrissey Boulevard.

But in the short-term, he said, he would like to find an alternative ramp location by the spring. He said he would ask nearby yacht clubs to accommodate neighbors by allowing them to launch from their facilities. 

The concrete jersey barrier now in place will remain there until a solution is identified, he said.

Will Sutton, a resident of Saxton Street who fishes and launches his kayak from Malibu, said he hoped a new access point can be opened soon. 

“I’m pretty sensitive to the concerns about safety and I specifically go to that area because I don’t want to be around large crowds of people,” said Sutton. “One of the great things about that space is that people have access to the [Boston Harbor] islands where they can camp overnight. It was a unique place and I think one of the reasons you see so many people there is because access to the water, despite being a coastal city, is hard. There’s just eroding all over the place. So hopefully there are ways to preserve access while addressing the safety issues.”

Sutton suggested that allowing public access to Dorchester Bay via a currently closed ramp next to the National Grid gas tank on Victory Road could be an alternative. Hunt said he, too, sees that location as a potential solution. It has been closed for years due to security concerns related to the gas tank next door.

“I walked the boat ramp down there with the [DCR] deputy commissioner in June,” said Hunt. “It looks pretty good and I think with minor improvements that it’s a possible option.”