State Intervention Sought to Reverse Laguna Beach Park and Beach Curfews

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.  

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

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.

Stay tuned.

Letter from Schwing to Elia:

Letter from Sarb to Ken Frank:

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