According to the California Coastal Act of 1976, the public should have 24 hour access to the beaches.
The Los Angeles’ beach curfew is well-known to people who have enjoyed an evening bonfire at Dockweiler State Beach by LAX or a moonlit walk in Venice only to have it cut short.
The police and city attorney are now enforcing a new illegal curfew on Ocean Front Walk, Venice Beach, from midnight to 5:00 am, since it was declared part of “The Park”.
Residents and visitors alike are impacted by this new development on Ocean Front Walk (aka Venice Boardwalk) just as they are by ALL beach curfews.
Coastal Commission Executive Director Peter Douglas says: “There are a lot of people who want to use the beach, which they have a constitutional right to do, in the middle of the night…You don’t preclude the public from that use without a good justification — a good reason — and we have to be able to look at that.”
As recently as November 2010, L.A. Times reported that the California Coastal Commission is challenging “beach curfews established by cities up and down the coast, saying they are illegal without state approval and that people have a right to be on the sand whenever they want.”
Barboza goes on to say: “The new push is likely to renew debate over coastal access, with beach cities arguing that the curfews are needed to ward off late-night crime on the sand. Coastal Commission officials argue that crime has dropped significantly in the last decade while demand for time on the beach has increased.
City officials in Los Angeles said they had no intention of weakening a curfew that’s been on the books for decades. The city attorney’s office said that the curfew was meant to deter crime and that the state didn’t have the authority to challenge the statute.
Enforcement of the curfew, however, may be inconsistent with the law.
Lifeguards told The Times that they started clearing the sand and surf at 10 p.m., two hours earlier than stipulated in the city’s 1988 ordinance.”