A local environmentalist is trying to enlist the state Coastal Commission to help reverse a recent Laguna Beach City Council action aimed at closing city parks and beaches from 1 to 5 a.m. daily.
With Councilwoman Verna Rollinger lodging the only nay vote, the council voted 4-1 for the curfews on Nov. 2.
The Sierra Club's Penny Elia, who has shown up at City Hall many times over the years to weigh in on hot-button environmental issues--including the Athens Group's development of the Montage resort alongside Aliso Creek--claims the council is thwarting the will of its constituents. She cites an Oct. 20 council hearing where "every Laguna Beach citizen that testified" opposed the closures.
More importantly, says Elia, beach curfews violate California's Constitution and the Coastal Act.
Both assure universal public access to the state's 1,100 mile coastline and 450 beaches facing the Pacific Ocean. Local coastal jurisdictions are charged with guarding, not denying, these coastal access rights, Elia notes.
So, she filed an appeal of the Laguna Beach council decision with the Coastal Commission on Nov. 12, citing inconsistencies with the Coastal Act, the Laguna Beach Local
Coastal Plan (LCP) and due process.
Included in materials Elia emailed the Weekly in regards to her campaign against curfews was a letter dated Nov. 13 from Sherilyn Sarb, the Coastal Commission's Orange County deputy director, to City Manager Ken Frank. In it, Sarb acknowledges the commission's difficulties with beach closures and its contention that curfews enacted by beach cities and counties constitute commission-regulated coastline development. The city is directed to file the proper requests to modify its state coastal development permit.
In other words: You've got more hoops to jump through before enforcing curfews, Kenny.
Sarb does also express a willingness to work with the city to find common ground: "The Commission has reviewed beach curfews which have been problematic in the past; however, working together with the local government, we have been able to achieve positive resolution of the matter. For example, when unruly or even criminal conduct occurred in a particular area (e.g. beach parking lots, particular beach areas), we were able to work with the appropriate law enforcement officials to focus the closure area and avoid an unnecessary far broader closure of an entire beach."
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Elia was informed in a letter from Karl Schwing, the commission's supervisor of Regulation and Planning, Orange County Area, that her appeal cannot be heard until Laguna Beach files a final action notice on the curfews.
Letter from Schwing to Elia:
Letter from Sarb to Ken Frank: