Well, not quite. Los Angeles beach goers were igniting picket signs from bonfires on the beach Thursday (actually just on the internet, because anonymity is TOTALLY awesome) after news hit that L.A. County had reportedly approved a $1,000 fine for throwing footballs and frisbees on beaches. This brought about concerns from parents where their kids playing on the beach and digging holes deeper than 18 inches could cost them a Benjamin or ten.
Turns out KCBS/KCAL had initially incorrectly reported on the story followed by even more media outlets world-wide, hitting as far as London, in this rampant game of ‘telephone’, alternatively called Chinese whispers – whose name sounds pretty racist.
The news report wasn’t just incorrect, it was completely backward. County beach officials and the Board of Supervisors actually made it easier this week to play soccer, football, tennis and Frisbee on the sand.
Frisbees had already been illegal by ordinance since 1969-1970: the citation of the law (see 17.12.430 along with my all time favorite reference to missiles in 17.12.420) plainly reads “(Ord. 10025 § 9, 1970: Ord. 9767 Art. 3 § 33.5, 1969.)”. The ordinance passed now merely redefined what kind of balls were illegal, changing it from anything other than “inflated rubber balls not less than 10 inches in diameter” to “beach ball or volleyball.” (Read the ordinance amendments; see page 28 for the amendments to 17.12.430).
Yes, the law states “It is unlawful for any person to cast, toss, throw, kick or roll any ball, tube or any light object…” but no lifeguard or beach cop is going to cite anyone for playing around unless they’re becoming a public nuisance and bystanders are repeatedly being hit, according to the County Board of Supervisors office. Anyone behaving in a way that would endanger other people will be issued a warning by a lifeguard first, and if the behavior continues, a designated enforcement officer will be called to deal with the situation and possibly issue a fine.
With so many people wanting to take up sand sports like beach soccer or tennis, and play among the millions who prefer to soak up the sun or build sand castles, the agency came up with a plan to keep everybody safe.
Hey, that’s fine by me. The last thing I want is some dbag kicking a ball at my daughter’s face. Besides, her plastic surgeon doesn’t want her doing any activity where balls fly at her nose. A Hole and Clueless reference in one article? There has to be some kind of 1990’s reference record for this.
“If somebody wanted to have a beach soccer tournament, the ordinance prohibited that, so we had to change that,” said Santos Kreimann, the county’s director of Beaches and Harbors.
When beaches are crowded in the summer, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, lifeguards will designate areas where the games can be played “generally away from the crowd,” Kreimann said.
But as far as the $1,000 fines the media reported for kicking a ball, that also was wrong.
A first infraction for playing in the nondesignated area can be up to $100. A second infraction is $200, and a third can be up to $500 in a 12-month period.
But Kreimann said lifeguards and code enforcement officers aren’t about to become beach nazis.
“We don’t go out and look for violators,” he said. “We’ve never issued a ticket. We’ve never done that. We understand that people like to recreate differently. We encourage that. That’s what the beaches are for.”
What’s my personal take on this? It’s human decency, not an infringement on people’s rights like others would suggest. I fly stunt kites at the beach and consider my location very carefully every time I fly. You don’t want to set up any place too crowded and you definitely want to ensure the safety of others by just getting out of the way. Same thing applies to other sports and forms of beach activity. It’s a public place and you just can’t go sh*tting on anyone you want just because you view it as a liberal nazi boot to your throat.