Q: Spring break is right around the corner. I heard several reports from the news media indicating Frisbee and ball throwing was being banned completely on all Los Angeles County beaches. Is this true?

A: Some media reports on the county’s beach ordinance were misleading. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors actually lifted a 42 year old, all-out ban on playing football, Frisbee tossing, and throwing other sports balls on the beach. Its intention is not to preclude football or Frisbee tossing.  Rather, its purpose is to allow ball playing without disturbing other beachgoers, while providing reasonable safety measures that lifeguards may impose on a crowded beach day, when the throwing of footballs or Frisbees could cause injuries to uninvolved bystanders. 

The ordinance allows football play, Frisbee and other ball play during the off-peak beach season. In the summer months, when millions of visitors come to L.A. County beaches (which includes Santa Monica beach), lifeguards have the authority to stop a game if it threatens safety in crowded areas of the beach. If necessary, a citation may be issued by law enforcement or code enforcement officers to individuals who ignore the lifeguards’ directives on ball playing, or any other lifeguard directive pertaining to beach or water safety.

Even during the peak season, the rule does allow for games in specially designated parts of the beach. 

The newly revised beach ordinance does not ban footballs, soccer balls, or Frisbees on L.A. County beaches. Instead, the ordinance provides a set of guidelines for safe ball playing at the beach.

Beachgoers may throw, kick, or roll any ball or light object on L.A. County beaches during the off-peak season between Labor Day and Memorial Day as long as persons or property are not endangered, and may do so year-round in established and/or designated areas or if they receive permission from the Department of Beaches and Harbors or a lifeguard.

If the ball-playing code section is violated, the violation is an infraction punishable by a fine in accordance with California Government Code section 25132 as follows:

(b) “Every violation determined to be an infraction is punishable by (1) a fine not exceeding $100 for a first violation; (2) a fine not exceeding $200 for a second violation of the same ordinance within one year; (3) a fine not exceeding $500 for each additional violation of the same ordinance within one year.” 

Q: I’m down at the Santa Monica beach a lot. I’ve heard there are lots of rules and regulations, but am not sure what they are. Can you provide some of the violations for me to share with my friends/family so we can enjoy the beach and not worry about breaking the law?

A: We must all remember that there are many laws that are enacted to balance the enjoyment of the beachgoers, the rights of the residents who live in the area, and the visitors who come to beautiful Santa Monica all year long. I have listed several of the most common issues we come across, but please know that it is not a comprehensive list.

• 21966 — No pedestrian shall walk, jog, etc. along a bicycle path or lane where there is an adjacent adequate pedestrian facility. Generally speaking, this means, if there is a pedestrian walking path, promenade, or Ocean Front Walk, which parallels the bike path, you shall not walk on the bike path, and may be cited. Please be courteous to the bicyclists. After all, it’s called a “bike path” for a reason. If you really want to be on the bike path, dig your bike out of the garage and ride on it all you want. Please, refrain from walking on the bike path; it’s not safe.

• 4.44.020 — Smoking is prohibited on Santa Monica beach, on the Santa Monica Pier, in waiting areas for public services (i.e. bus stops) and within 20 feet of an entrance to a public facility (i.e. restaurants, hotels, other storefronts). This also includes the Chess Park.

• 4.55.100 — No fires or fireworks are allowed in any public park or beach. No fire pits of any kind, using a fire, barbecue or portable stove, or burning charcoal, except upon a masonry or concrete hearth, barbecue grills, or fire circle provided by the city for such purpose. The prohibition contained in this subsection shall not apply to city-produced events that receive a community event permit.

• 4.08.210 — No person shall possess or use any glass container upon any public beach, any public beach parking lot, the promenade, the beach bike-path, any picnic area or playground area on or adjacent to the beach, and on any public area of the Santa Monica Pier.

• 4.08.080 — No person shall erect, place or maintain any tent, easy-up shade canopy, or other temporary housing or shelter which is closed or capable of being closed more than 50 percent from the ground up on any Santa Monica beach.

• 4.08.096 — No person shall use the equipment/apparatus at Muscle Beach or the chess tables/chess pieces at Chess Park after sunset and before sunrise. This municipal code is enforced discretionarily. As mentioned before, there is a constant balance between maintaining peace for the residents nearby and locals who are working out or just enjoying the beach. As it gets late in the evening, be conscientious of the noise level for the people trying to rest in their homes nearby. With this in mind, the next municipal code must be adhered to.

• 4.12.100 — No playing of audio or electronic devices after 10 p.m., or before 8 a.m. No person shall play any audio or electronic device, radio, or any other musical instrument in or upon any public park, beach, or recreational facility owned or maintained by City Hall. Once again, neighbors live along the beach and their desire for peace and quiet must be respected.

L.A. Marathon

A reminder, the Los Angeles Marathon will be in town this Sunday, March 18. San Vicente Boulevard, from Wilshire Boulevard to Ocean Avenue is expected to be closed from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Ocean Avenue, from San Vicente to Pico Boulevard is expected to be closed from 12 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please plan your routes accordingly. For further information visit www.lamarathon.com

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

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