Q: I’ve heard that Santa Monica made it illegal to smoke on the beach and the Santa Monica Pier. Is this true?

A: Yes, it is against the law to smoke on the Santa Monica Pier and on its beaches. Although anyone over the age of 18 has the right to smoke, for reasons of public health, mutual respect and care of the environment, smoking is prohibited by law (4.44.020 of the Santa Monica Municipal Code) on the Santa Monica Beach and the Santa Monica Pier (except in designated areas). Most smokers are conscientious of where they discard their cigarette butts, but I’m sure we’ve all seen them strewn along the sidewalk, flicked-out from moving vehicles, and on the beach. And, from a fire safety perspective, Santa Monica Harbor Service officers and/or Santa Monica Fire Department respond to an average of 20 smoking material related fires on the pier per month. Many of these are extinguished in the smoldering stage, but others require the need to cut away or pull-up pier decking to reach the flames and ensure the fire is out. The pier does have clearly marked designated smoking areas along the rail.

Smoking is also not allowed in public parks, Farmers’ Markets, bus stops, outdoor dining areas, on the Third Street Promenade, the public libraries, and in or immediately near the entrance to any public building.

That being said, the Santa Monica Pier Twilight Dance Series Concerts will begin this summer and you will be amongst smokers who may not be aware it is illegal. Because most people, if aware, would not smoke where prohibited, police officers usually do not have to issue a citation. Most people, once advised of the municipal code violation and where you can smoke, will gladly extinguish their cigarette and smoke where allowed. For more information regarding where you can and cannot smoke, visit www.SmokingDoesntBelongHere.com.

Q: Am I allowed to take glass bottle on the beach?

A: No, it is illegal. Although the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches has strategically placed trash cans throughout the beach, trash, and broken glass is discarded on the beach all the time. Trash makes the beach unattractive and unsanitary, and the broken glass is very dangerous for the usually bare-footed beachgoers. During peak summer months, the Los Angeles County lifeguards respond to lacerations from sharp objects buried in the sand several times a week. Although most small and medium-sized objects are picked up by the beach sweeping tractor, smaller objects are not. Items such as glass bottles, glass jars, plastic utensils, and other breakable items can be broken by maintenance and safety vehicles. If you have items which are packaged in glass, transfer them to safer, non-breakable containers before bringing them to the sand.

It is also illegal to bring any glass bottle or container to the pier, the beach parking lots, on the bikepath, or any picnic or playground area adjacent to the beach (4.08.210 SMMC).

Other commonly asked questions by patrons of the beautiful Santa Monica beaches are whether or not alcoholic beverages, fires, and BBQs are allowed on the beach. They too are not allowed. If you would like more information regarding the rules and regulations of the Santa Monica Beach, visit: www01.smgov.net/osm/beach_info.htm. Lifeguards are there to answer your questions, but their primary duty is to keep an eye on swimmers and watch for water hazards. So, please try to refer to the website for all of your beach needs before you head down to enjoy the sand and surf. Once again, if you are attending the Twilight Dance Series Concerts please refrain from bringing alcohol, glass bottles, and smoking on the beach.

Preventing car thefts and burglaries

The last thing you need is to find your vehicle’s window broken and items missing, or your car not parked where you left it. We suggest you take these simple but important steps to prevent your vehicle from being stolen or becoming a burglar’s next target:

• Place items out of sight before reaching your destination or move them inconspicuously. This includes purses, packages, gym bags, shopping bags, etc.

• Park in well-lit areas.

• Lock all doors, even if you plan to be gone for only a brief time.

• Set any alarm or anti-theft device.

• Never leave your car unattended with the engine running, even if only for a moment.

• Never leave your checkbook, or important documents in the car.

• Never, ever leave your car keys in the vehicle! Even if parked in your driveway, or carport.

If you see suspicious activity, report it to the police department by calling (310) 458-8491, or 911 if it is an emergency. Do not confront individuals! Instead, be a good witness and be aware. Remember, your life is precious, materials can be replaced.

This column was prepared by Neighborhood Resource Officer Richard Carranza (Beat 1: coastal, beach and pier areas). He can be reached at (424) 200-0681 or via e-mail at richard.carranza@smgov.net.