IS IT TIME FOR THE CA COASTAL COMMISSION TO CHALLENGE CITY BEACH CURFEWS?

Posted: January 16, 2012 in Free Speech at the Beach, Gentrification, VNC
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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Stay in touch with the Spirit of Venice — spiritofvenice.net

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No names mentioned but the inexorable “Energized Bunny” – Ms. T (currently surviving on food stamps and police handouts) – is first with the scoop on Ocean Front Walk “developments”.

The latest news from our tireless bunny is that the police and city attorney are ramping up to enforce not only the newly amended LAMC 42.15 that proposes to regulate vending on OFW, but also close OFW from midnight to 5:00 am, since it has recently been declared part of “The Park”.

According to Ms. T, the police have declared that “The Park”, consisting of OFW from Navy St. to Washington Blvd., will be closed between midnight and 5:00 am and anyone in “The Park” will be warned and then cited if they stay in the park beyond midnight. This also means that those homeless people who sleep on the edge of OFW; and those local residents who like to take a late night/early morning stroll down OFW, will no longer be able to do so.

The police have been in training, getting ready to enforce LAMC 42.15, which will begin around January 20, once the new signs are posted. This will also coincide with the enforcement of the midnight – 5:00 am curfew on OFW.

The inclusion of OFW as part of the park and the new park hours came as a surprise to most. Not least, members of Venice Neighborhood Council, which had made recommendations to the city in connection with the ordinance.  The VNC can’t do anything without Board action but they can take emergency action to address concerns by residents living close to OFW, who are complaining that this planned enforcement will limit where and when they can walk their dog, take a stroll in the midnight air, or simply step across OFW to reach the beach. Some complain that the homeless people, now sleeping beside OFW will be diverted onto Speedway, closer to residential areas, with the potential for creating “problems”.

So far, the Coastal Commission has not been discussed, and may have not been consulted, as they could present a possible roadblock to the plan. According to the California Coastal Act of 1976, the public should have 24 hour access to the beaches. As recently as November 2010, L.A. Times reported that the California Coastal Commission is challenging “beach curfews established by cities up and down the coast, saying they are illegal without state approval and that people have a right to be on the sand whenever they want.” http://articles.latimes.com/2010/nov/18/local/la-me-beach-curfew-20101117.

The L.A. Times article by Tony Barboza quotes Coastal Commission Executive Director Peter Douglas: “There are a lot of people who want to use the beach, which they have a constitutional right to do, in the middle of the night…You don’t preclude the public from that use without a good justification — a good reason — and we have to be able to look at that.”

Barboza goes on to say: “The new push is likely to renew debate over coastal access, with beach cities arguing that the curfews are needed to ward off late-night crime on the sand. Coastal Commission officials argue that crime has dropped significantly in the last decade while demand for time on the beach has increased.

City officials in Los Angeles said they had no intention of weakening a curfew that’s been on the books for decades. The city attorney’s office said that the curfew was meant to deter crime and that the state didn’t have the authority to challenge the statute.

Los Angeles’ curfew is well-known to people who have enjoyed an evening bonfire at Dockweiler State Beach by LAX or a moonlit walk in Venice only to have it cut short.

Enforcement of the curfew, however, may be inconsistent with the law.

Lifeguards told The Times that they started clearing the sand and surf at 10 p.m., two hours earlier than stipulated in the city’s 1988 ordinance.”

Residents and visitors alike will be impacted by this new development on OFW, and it may turn out that the Coastal Commission will have to step up and step in to protect public access to our coastal areas, yet again.

Please sign our petition:  https://www.change.org/petitions/the-governor-of-ca-restore-24-hour-access-to-california-beaches

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