The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday ordered the Department of Beaches and Harbors to rewrite a recently amended ordinance that caused an uproar from here to London over fines for football and Frisbee throwing on the beach.
Supervisor Don Knabe, whose 4th District includes Marina del Rey and Playa del Rey, said in a statement that the intent of the updated beach ordinance was to remove restrictions on ball-playing, but was perceived as the "exact opposite."
“I appreciate the director of Beaches and Harbors clarifying the ordinance at our meeting (Tuesday)," Knabe said. "But I am concerned that a misunderstanding will continue. We must do a better job of creating clear communications to minimize confusion like we had on this one when incorrect information went viral.”
Knabe said the amended ordinance should be rewritten in a manner that "clearly states that such activities by small groups and individuals are allowed on the County beach, unless directed otherwise by the County Lifeguard or other designees to protect public safety and enjoyment of the beach."
Last week, the board approved updated policies regarding lifeguards, boating and beach recreation in and around Los Angeles County beaches. Old rules related to beach sports, which included a prohibition on playing football on the sand, were loosened to allow football and Frisbees and to add sailboarding, kiteboarding and paddleboarding to the list of beach activities.
The amended ordinance also gave code enforcement officers with the county's Department of Beachs and Harbors the authority to issue citations for rule-breakers. In addition, it also outlined how either law enforcement or code enforcement officers could issue citations for anyone failing to end ball-playing during the summer months after being warned by a lifeguard.
According to Santos Kreimann, director of the county's Department of Beaches and Harbors, erroneous reports last week that anyone tossing a football or a Frisbee could be fined $1,000 outraged some Frisbee and football fans.
"It went viral within minutes," said Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. He said his office was inundated with complaints from as far away as London.
Knabe and Michael Antonovich wanted Kreimann at the meeting to publicly clarify the rules, and Knabe recommended going a step further.
"While I appreciate the clarification, I'm concerned that misunderstandings will continue," Knabe said. "Given the fact that no tickets have been issued in 40 years ... allowing such activity should be the rule rather than the exception."
Knabe said he discussed the changes with lifeguards and they agreed that an updated ordinance was needed. It was unclear how long it would take for county lawyers to make the changes, which would then be codified by a vote of the board.
The vote in support of the change was unanimous.