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10-Foot-Wide Strips of LA Beaches Could Be Open All Night

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Like a high school freshman, Los Angeles beaches have a midnight curfew. Nobody's allowed to be hoofin' it across the sand from 12 am to 5 am, as dictated by a 1988 ordinance that city officials say helps prevent crime. The California Coastal Commission, which protects access to the state's beaches (all public, by law), apparently didn't like the ordinance but acquiesced because crime stats were high around that time. But now crime's dropped and the commission is pushing for the curfew to be lifted, reports the LA Times. The city is trying to find a way to please the commission while still keeping the curfew in place, because they hate beach access apparently, so they've asked City Attorney Mike Feuer to draft an ordinance that would keep the curfew in place at Venice Beach and create a tiny designated beach access strip at Dockweiler and Will Rogers Beaches that wouldn't be subject to curfew.

Councilmember Mike Bonin, who represents coastal 'hoods, says he's hoping to find a middle ground that will make everyone happy; he was the one who requested the city attorney draw up the ordinance. Under the plan, Dockweiler and Will Rogers would get a special "accessway", just 10 feet wide and running perpendicular to the ocean (specifically, at a 90 degree angle to the shoreline, says the ordinance), that would be open to nighttime foot traffic; dry sand outside this special path would still be subject to the curfew.

Venice Beach, meanwhile, would still be closed from midnight to 5 am and would have no such special ocean-access path because, according to the draft ordinance, it's still a crime hotbed. The draft ordinance notes that "Year-to-date in 2014, violent crime in Venice Beach is up 8.3 percent and overall crime is up 9.3 percent. Rape is up more than 75 percent," and that, historically, more crimes occur there at night. (The ordinance was submitted in late October 2014; it's only now come before the City Council's Arts, Parks, Health, Aging and River Committee.) Bonin says the curfew is a "significant tool" for police when it comes to keeping crime down.

Some residents worry, though that the curfew is being used more to kick homeless people off the beaches and, as such, will only push them into residential neighborhoods. Others are pissed on principle, arguing that, "What you're actually doing is denying all of us the right to come to Venice Beach at night to fish or look at the stars," as the executive director of the Venice Community Housing Corporation explains. The boardwalk in Venice has a similar curfew.
· City attorney is negotiating with state over Venice Beach curfew [LAT]