On a stretch of Laguna Beach where waves slam right onto white sand, a wall of steel and concrete interrupts the shoreline.

But the structure also inhibits the natural sand flow, according to coastal officials. So long as the wall remains, sand will continue to disappear in front of the home, washing away a section of what is known as Victoria Beach.

As more homeowners try to fight sea-level rise, California must pick a side: Protect private property or the public interest? Save a mansion or a beach for the people?

The California Coastal Commission on Thursday will decide whether to demand hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines from the homeowners and order the sea wall demolished — putting the house at greater risk of erosion. Such action would be rare for a commission usually mindful of walking the line between property rights and beach access.