Los Angeles's beach curfew has been in effect for 27 years, but it's only been strictly enforced over the last few years as enormous amounts of tech money has moved into Silicon Beach, bringing rich new residents who don't want to share the area with the homeless community. The California Coastal Commission, which governs the state's shores, has never really liked the curfew, but allowed it because the city argued it was a public safety measure. Now, however, a group of Venice activists who are upset about the beach restrictions are suing the city, charging that the curfew "was adopted in defiance of the state Coastal Commission's sole jurisdiction over the shoreline," with the hope that the court will prevent the city from enforcing the curfew, says the LA Times. The restrictions in place prohibit anyone from being on the sand from midnight to 5 am, but those opposed to the measure say that it was "lightly enforced" until five or six years ago, when complaints about the homeless, especially in Venice, began to rise.
In 2010, the California Coastal Commission began to look closer at the 1989 curfew, and told the city to both get a permit to keep the curfew in effect and to demonstrate that the curfew was still necessary for safety reasons. Recently, LA has tried to negotiate a compromise: an ordinance drafted by City Attorney Mike Feuer would allow for the creation of 10-foot-wide walkways where the curfew would not be in effect, therefore providing beach access but keeping most of the beach off-limits in the wee hours. These so-called "accessways" would go in at Dockweiler and Will Rogers, but Venice wouldn't get one; there, the curfew would stay in full force.
Venice was left out of the proposed plan because the ordinance says the neighborhood still has high crime—violent crime, overall crime, and rape are up, it said—and, since the beaches are especially vulnerable at night, the curfew was seen as a crime-prevention tool there. (The Venice boardwalk has a curfew as well.)
The activists don't see it quite like that. From their point-of-view, all the money spent on enforcement of the curfew is taxpayer money wasted. More loftily, they charge that "An individual's right to unobstructed access to the ocean, beaches and waterways has been recognized since the ancient laws of the Roman Empire."
· Venice activists sue city of Los Angeles over beach curfew [LAT]
· New Venice Elite Waging All-Out Class War on Homeless People [Curbed LA]
· 10-Foot-Wide Strips of LA Beaches Could Be Open All Night [Curbed LA]