DailyBreeze.com (Feb.09, 2012) Larry Altman Staff Writerdailybreeze.com
The Department of Beaches and Harbors phone rang and rang Thursday.
Upset callers and reporters checked in from throughout the country. One reporter was in London.
“Why in the world would county officials ban Frisbee tossing on Los Angeles beaches?” they asked.
The trouble was, nobody had.
KCBS/KCAL had incorrectly reported that “LA County Approves $1,000 Fine For Throwing Football, Frisbees On Beaches.”
And like a virus, the story spread through the Internet, Facebook sites and Twitter. It showed up on the Drudge Report and other news websites – including dailybreeze.com
“I think the people of Los Angeles need to flip the finger to the idiots in the legislature who pass these antisocial laws and ordinances in order to fill the local city’s coffers with the people’s money,” Robert Karol wrote on the Beaches and Harbor’s Facebook site. “Fines for tossing a Frisbee or football? What about tossing the idiots out on their derriere who passed this ordinance?”
Down at Redondo Beach, residents provided with bad information from a reporter out working the “Frisbee ban” story rightly called the law ridiculous.
“That’s un-American,” Redondo Beach resident Kim Fine said. “What are families going to do with their kids at the beach? We are encourage kids to get more exercise and spend time with their families. This is counterproductive.”
“It’s stupid, it’s too much control,” said Kathy Foley of Redondo Beach. “That’s what kids do – they play with Frisbees and footballs and dig holes.”
It was all anger for nothing. 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.
An ordinance already in place, though not really enforced, since the 1980s actually banned such activities on the beach, said Santos Kreimann, the county’s director of Beaches and Harbors.
“If somebody wanted to have a beach soccer tournament, the ordinance prohibited that, so we had to change that,” Kreimann said.
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.
“The facts of the matter are that the original ordinance prohibited ball playing on the beach,” Kreimann said. “Our intent was to loosen those restrictions and to allow more ball playing on the beach. It never prohibited throwing a football or throwing a Frisbee.”
The new ordinance declares that anyone can kick a ball or swat a tennis ball anywhere on the beach during the winter.
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.
Lifeguards can stop a game if it threatens safety in crowded areas. They can give a ticket to people who ignore them.
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 Scrooges.
“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.”
The ordinance does have some $1,000 fines written into it. You can’t be nude, shoot a gun or swim or surf in hazardous conditions or prohibited areas.
Staff Writer Douglas Morino contributed to this article.