The Venice Beach Curfew Dispute Continues

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Venice Stakeholders Association President Mark Ryavec writes to let us know that discussions will begin soon between the LA City Attorney and California Coastal Commission to address again the longstanding disagreement concerning the City curfew ordinance which came into effect in 1989.  

Venice Stakeholders Issue Letters Supporting Beach Curfew (Venice, CA/6-26-14) The Venice Stakeholders Association today released a letter to the Los Angeles Police Department and city officials supporting the City’s 12-5 AM beach curfew, noting that the curfew is an inherent municipal police power and expressly exempt from purview of the Coastal Act and the Coastal Commission. “The framers of the Coastal Act carved out the police powers of coastal cities from the requirement to obtain a coastal development permit (CDP),” said Mark Ryavec, the VSA’s president. Ryavec, a former legislative analyst for the City of Los Angeles, said the exemption for cities is straightforward. “The State Legislature did not want the Coastal Act to prevent the police from protecting residents and visitors.” In the letter the Venice leader noted that “ while the curfew does limit “access to water,” so does a line of police tape that is placed across entry points to the Boardwalk in emergency situations or around sites in the VRBA when a crime has been committed. The curfew is simply a proactive version of police tape designed to prevent crime, vandalism and the violation of quality of life ordinances that protect residents.” “No CDP is required for any of these exercises of police power to protect citizens and property.” Also released was a letter supporting the curfew from long-time Venice resident Jack Hoffman, who is the past president of the Venice Action Committee. (Hoffman lives one-half block from the curfew zone.)

Mark Ryavec’s letter to LAPD, and  Jack Hoffman’s letter. The Los Angeles Times has covered the fight that began in 2010 (and published an editorial recently urging compromise). The latest round began April 9th of this year, with a letter from Andrew Willis, a Coastal Commission enforcement analyst, to the Department of Recreations and Parks, maintaining the commission’s position that the curfew is subject to a permit approval process under the Coastal Act. From the LA Times coverage in April:

 Although Willis’ letter used conciliatory language, he reiterated the commission’s longstanding position that the city must conform to the Coastal Act and the commission’s guidelines, which he said call for:

  •  A way for the public to have access to the ocean 24 hours a day.
  • Presenting “credible evidence” of a public safety problem that requires a beach curfew.
  • Evaluating alternatives to a “sweeping” curfew and tailoring boundaries to narrowly focus the ban on problem areas.
  • Adopting a “sunset” clause to guarantee periodic review and public hearings on the need for the curfew.

The curfew in question is:

SEC. 63.44. REGULATIONS AFFECTING PARK AND RECREATION AREAS. (Added by Ord. No. 153,027, Eff. 11/16/79.)

14. (Amended by Ord. No. 164,209, Eff. 1/8/89.)

(b) No person shall enter, remain, stay or loiter in any park which consists of an ocean area, beach, or pier between the hours of 12:00 midnight’ and 5:00 o’clock a.m. of the following day; except that no person shall remain, stay or loiter on Royal Palms Beach between the hours of 8:00 o’clock p.m. and 5:00  o’clock a.m. of the following day. On any park which consists of an ocean area, beach, or pier subject to this Section, the supervising employee at such site may extend the 12:00 midnight closing time, or in the case of Royal Palms Beach the 8:00 o’clock p.m. closing time, to accommodate special events such as grunion runs and other events approved by the Department of Recreation and Parks or the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches, as applicable.

The Articles of the state Coastal Act that have been cited by the Coastal Commission as grounds for the requirement of a Coastal Development Permit:

PUBLIC RESOURCES CODE DIVISION 20  CALIFORNIA COASTAL ACT  (2014) Chapter 3 Coastal Resources Planning and Management Policies

ARTICLE 2 PUBLIC ACCESS

Section 30210 Access; recreational opportunities; posting

In carrying out the requirement of Section 4 of Article X of the California Constitution, maximum access, which shall be conspicuously posted, and recreational opportunities shall be provided for all the people consistent with public safety needs and the need to protect public rights, rights of private property owners, and natural resource areas from overuse. (Amended by Ch. 1075, Stats. 1978.)

CHAPTER 2 Definitions

Section 30106 Development 

“Development” means, on land, in or under water, the placement or erection of any solid material or structure; discharge or disposal of any dredged material or of any gaseous, liquid, solid, or thermal waste; grading, removing, dredging, mining, or extraction of any materials; change in the density or intensity of use of land, including, but not limited to, subdivision pursuant to the Subdivision Map Act (commencing with Section 66410 of the Government Code), and any other division of land, including lot splits, except where the land division is brought about in connection with the purchase of such land by a public agency for public recreational use; change in the intensity of use of water, or of access thereto; construction, reconstruction, demolition, or alteration of the size of any structure, including any facility of any private, public, or municipal utility; and the removal or harvesting of major vegetation other than for agricultural purposes, kelp harvesting, and timber operations which are in accordance with a timber harvesting plan submitted pursuant to the provisions of the Z’berg-Nejedly Forest Practice Act of 1973 (commencing with Section 4511).

As used in this section, “structure” includes, but is not limited to, any building, road, pipe, flume,
conduit, siphon, aqueduct, telephone line, and electrical power transmission and distribution line.

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