Coastal Commission questions legality of beach curfews
The California Coastal Commission has taken aim at Los Angeles for its beach curfew, prompting questions about the authority of the agency to take up an issue normally left to law enforcement.
Commission leaders contend that the city's midnight-to-5 a.m. curfew and similar laws in other California cities violate the 1976 Coastal Act.
In several letters between coastal regulators and the city, the state agency told Los Angeles it needs permission to close beaches. Beaches within city boundaries from Will Rogers State Beach near Malibu to Cabrillo Beach in the city's harbor are currently closed from midnight to 5 a.m.
The Coastal Act requires permits from the commission for development, a term that is defined broadly and includes a change of access to the water, commission officials said.
Jane Usher, special assistant city attorney, disagreed with this interpretation of the law.
[Jane Usher ALWAYS seems to disagree with interpretations of the law. And those disagreements always seem to be with the judges who rule against the city. Something that seems to be happening more and more as judges become FED UP with L.A.'s flagrant disobedience for U.S. & State Constitutional law, against their recommendations and court orders. AND HERE SHE GOES, AGAIN!]
A check of South Bay communities showed local ordinances that either did not address beach curfews, or only applied to minors as an extension of city curfew laws.
Manhattan Beach does have a beach curfew from midnight to 6 a.m., City Attorney Robert Wadden said, but it only prohibits using a beach in a manner that is not "law-abiding."
Wadden said there has long been conflict between seaside cities and the Coastal Commission.
"It seems like they are pushing the limits of the jurisdiction that's provided to them under the Coastal Act," Wadden said.
Though the act's language does seem to forbid barring access to beaches, it doesn't mention curfews specifically, Wadden said. "I don't think that was the intent of the Legislature when they adopted the language."
Peter Douglas, executive director of the California Coastal Commission, disagrees.
"It is (the intent), I wrote it," he said of the Coastal Act.
Douglas helped author the law in 1976 as a consultant to the state Legislature.
"We were looking at actions that could affect public resources, public values, (and) that does not involve physical development," he said.
The courts, he added, have repeatedly rejected claims that the law is limited to physical structures.
"Rather than painting with a broad brush," Douglas suggested, "let's figure out where the problems are and how we can address the problem with a more surgical approach."
That, Douglas said, is the approach the commission took with curfews in places such as Long Beach and Coronado, and one it hopes to take with Los Angeles and any other city that has public safety concerns on beaches.
Often, curfews are imposed following complaints about noise by people who live near the ocean, Douglas said. "That's not what we think justifies elimination of a constitutional right," he said.
"People have limited places to go for recreation, and the beach is one of those places," he said. "This is a state resource, this is a treasure."
The commission's action on curfews followed an increase in complaints from the public about access to beaches, officials said.
READY TO ROLL THE DICE JANE, NUCH & LAPD? YOU ARE NOW FORCED TO. YOU HAVE NOT EVEN BEGUN SETTLEMENT TALKS, SINCE YOU HAVE NOT PROVIDED DOWD/DOGG WITH ANYTHING TO CONSIDER...NOW, it is too late. WE WILL SEE YOU ON THIS MATTER IN COURT, ALONG WITH ALL THE OTHER MATTER POSTED ONLY THIS PAST WEEK -- WHEN WE SHOULD HAVE HAD A NUMBER, ALREADY.
BUT NOW UNDERSTAND...TIME IS OUT...AND THIS WILL BE MOVED FORWARD WITH UNDER ANY AND ALL CIRCUMSTANCES. (Keep thinking about it and keep going over meaningless paperwork....the clock is ticking...and everything blogged up until now will not be reversed even with settlement. It's just a matter of what else we will be moving forward with until the check from the city clears.