Santa Cruz Beach Curfew

From ActCoastal

Month March
Year 2020
Summary The City of Santa Cruz sought, as part of its beach management plan, a curfew at its Main Beach from midnight to 5 a.m. The adjacent beach, Cowell’s, already has a similar curfew, which the City asked to continue.

In its application, the City listed “narcotic use, alcohol consumption and abuse, littering and trash, fires, water quality, camping, vendor storage and drug paraphernalia” as the reasons this curfew is necessary. Since most of what was listed is already illegal, opponents to the curfew argued that disallowing people on the beach would criminalize sleeping, sitting, generally hanging out and otherwise merely existing on the beach outside of the wet sand. (The curfew would exempt the wet sand in order to allow for surfing, swimming and walking along water’s edge.)

The City of Santa Cruz also stated that despite the nighttime access restriction on Cowell Beach, “criminal activity has been persistent and ongoing during the nighttime hours at Cowell Beach.” The City notes that the police department is too understaffed to effectively patrol the beach for existing crime, all of which raised the question of how the police will have enough staffing to enforce an extended curfew.

Commissioners approved the curfew in a split vote.

Outcome Red Dot.png
Outcome Description Several Commissioners expressed concern about the proposed beach curfew, which the City justified as necessary due to safety concerns, especially among the area’s unsheltered population who often spend time at the beach at night. Commissioner Zahirah Mann noted that “safety concerns” are often used to sometimes exclude different populations. Commissioner Erik Howell, who was among those voted against giving the city its permit, said curfews should be set in a way that is the least restrictive way possible. Some Commissioners also noted that creating a police state on the public’s beach could set a poor precedent for the rest of the state.
Why You Should Care The California Coastal Commission has historically opposed beach curfews; the agency’s LCP update guidance states that “Closure to public use of any portion of the beach inland of the mean high tide line is not encouraged.” In the zone between “disallows” and “is not encouraged,” however, many conflicting issues of access, resource protection, social inequity, public safety, California’s homelessness crisis and the ability of jurisdictions to enforce our agreed-upon laws exists.
Image March 2020 Santa Cruz Beach Management Plan.png
Decision Type Coastal Development Permit
Staff Recommendation Approval with Conditions
Staff Report report.pdf
Opposition to Project Stepping up Santa Cruz
Coastal Act Policies Chapter 3

Voting Detail for Santa Cruz Beach Curfew

Individual vote detail for Issue: Santa Cruz Beach Curfew
Donne BrownseyAbsent for Vote
Caryl HartBad Vote
Sara AminzadehBad Vote
Erik HowellGood Vote
Katie RiceBad Vote
Effie Turnbull-SandersGood Vote by Alternate
Mike WilsonGood Vote
Carole GroomBad Vote
Dayna BochcoBad Vote
Roberto UrangaGood Vote
Steve PadillaBad Vote
Linda EscalanteBad Vote by Alternate

Meeting Page

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