Beachgoers in Los Angeles County who want to play a pickup game of Frisbee, sand soccer, beach Quidditch or flag football between Memorial Day and Labor Day will have to do so in designated areas or with a lifeguard's permission.
Part of a 37-page amended ordinance that received final approval Tuesday from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors identifies which flying objects are prohibited on the beach between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
The purpose of the ordinance was to loosen restrictions that had been an all-out ban on football, Frisbee throwing and other ball-throwing activities, said Carol Baker, a spokeswoman for the Department of Beaches and Harbors, on Thursday.
"The intent was not to preclude football or Frisbee tossing," Baker said. "We wanted to allow ball playing while providing reasonable safety measures that the lifeguards could impose on a crowded beach day."
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The ordinance allows for ball play during the off-peak season, Baker said.
"You don't have to do anything special during the off-peak season as long as you're not endangering anyone," Baker said. "In that situation, the lifeguard can always exercise his or her prerogative to stop the game."
The rules affect the 17 beaches owned, controlled, or managed by the county, including city-owned Venice Beach, state-owned Dockweiler State Beach, city-owned Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach. It does not include Santa Monica, which has its own ordinance, Baker said.
During the peak season, the rules still do allow for games in specially designated parts of the beach or with the permission of a lifeguard or the Department of Beaches and Harbors, Baker said.
In the summer months, a lifeguard can stop a game if it threatens public safety. If the ball playing doesn't stop, law enforcement or a code enforcement officer from the Department of Beaches and Harbors can issue a citation, Baker said.
The amendment specifically permits beach volleyballs and inflatable beach balls, but casting, tossing, throwing, kicking or rolling "any ball, tube or light object other than a beach ball or beach volleyball" during peak season could lead to fines.
The fines are in accordance with the California Government Code and call for a fine of up to $100 for a first violation; up to $200 for a second violation of the same ordinance within one year and a fine up to $500 for each additional violation of the same ordinance within one year.
Also, beachgoers should forget about bringing their model airplanes, boats, helicopters or similar craft. According to the new rules, "no person shall operate [these objects] in, on or over any beach or the Pacific Ocean."
The amended ordinance also provides a list of responsibilities for law enforcement including moving lifeguards from the Department of Beaches and Harbors to the county's Fire Department, Baker said. It also clarifies license requirements and other language in the existing law, prohibits the digging of holes deeper than 18 inches (unless it's required for film and television production), and makes other safety-related amendments.
The new rules go into effect next month.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe issued a statement Thursday saying that he has "heard the outcry over the prohibition against footballs and Frisbees" as another example of government "run amok."
"In fact, the intent of the ordinance was to increase recreational-activities - something which has been lost in the media coverage," Knabe said.
Knabe said he has asked Santos Kreimann, head of the Department of Beaches and Harbors, to attend next Tuesday's meeting of the Board of Supervisors to explain and clarify the ordinance.
(Editor's Note: Updated at 5:40 p.m. to correct that ordinance doesn't apply to Santa Monica. Earlier update recast headline and lead to correct misleading information, correct fine amounts and added comments from county.)