By Sue Pascoe
The City of Los Angeles is planning to drop the current beach curfew (sunset to sundown) in five locations, and allow these beaches to remain open from midnight to 5 a.m.
Beaches selected include Will Rogers State Beach, just north of Temescal Canyon at Pacific Coast Highway; two locations in Venice; one in Playa del Rey and one at San Pedro.
A Jan. 25 negative declaration from L.A. City Recreation and Parks (RAP) was filed to support that move and the city has already applied for a coastal development permit.
Last October at a hearing about the proposed curfew removal, more than 2,600 residents opposed the action. But none of them were notified about the Jan. 25 declaration.
When Venice resident Lucy Han, president of Community Above Profit, learned of the declaration, she asked the city why those who opposed the opening were not notified.
The city, because of that failure, must now properly notify and also must refile, which it intends to do.
The 10-ft.-wide strip that would be opened at each of the five locations would allow access to the wet sand area next to the water.
RAP’s Environmental Supervisor Paul Davis, who wrote the declaration, was contacted on Feb. 16 and asked 1.) would bathrooms remain open; 2.) would the parking lot stay open; and 3.) would lifeguards be on duty in case someone wanted to take a 1 a.m. swim? No answer was received before Presidents’ Day weekend.
This latest action stems from a December 2015 lawsuit that challenged the city’s right to impose a nightly curfew on beaches.
The lawsuit, brought by Jataun Valentine and Francesca de la Rosa, alleged that the city had refused to obtain a coastal development permit from the California Coastal Commission for the 1988 ordinance that closes 11 miles of coastline from midnight to 5 a.m.
The plaintiffs argued that the curfew law—LAMC 63.44(B)(14)(b)—was a development under California Public Resources Code Section 30106 (a), and because of the coastal act it meant the city needed to obtain a coastal development permit.
According to Han, state law says beaches are meant to be open to everybody 24/7, 365 days a year.
Pacific Palisades Community Council Vice President George Wolfberg said, “If the state is requiring it, then they should pay for the additional law enforcement.”
Even a city study stated there will be a “need for more police protection or emergency response services substantially beyond what is currently provided in the local community.”
Han said that if the current curfew is lifted, most probably there will be an increase in theft, drugs, noise and panhandling and that it would encourage overnight encampments. She said that LAPD Pacific Division Captain Setzer predicted that lifting the curfew would increase beach crime.
Residents who opposed removing the current curfew were encouraged to send letters to County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and Councilman Mike Bonin, and also reach out to Coastal Commission Commissioners (Chuck Posner, firstname.lastname@example.org) by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 21, with objections so a public hearing will be held.