A report this week on the local CBS news station about the county banning Frisbee throwing and football tossing on the beach has sparked a firestorm of public anger on the Internet. But a closer look at the facts shows the Board of Supervisors did not create a new law, but rather made adjustments to existing rules.
The board on Tuesday unanimously approved a 37-page ordinance that modifies three sections of the Los Angeles County Code and affects a variety of things you can and cannot do at county-owned or operated beaches (beaches in Manhattan Beach are under county jurisdiction). Most of the changes were minor and technical, including lots of wordsmithing.
Regarding the "Frisbee ban," the ordinance keeps most of the rule that has already been on the books for many years that "it is unlawful for any person to cast, toss, throw, kick or roll any ball, tube, or any light object other than a beach ball or beach volleyball."
Allowing a beach ball or beach volleyball is new. The previous version of the rule stated the only legal items were "inflated rubber balls not less than 10 inches in diameter."
The ordinance also includes some new features when it comes to Frisbees, footballs and other non-beach balls. It allows the use of the banned items during the "off-season," which is the period between Labor Day and Memorial Day. You can also use them in areas designated by the director of the county Department of Beaches & Harbors and possibly anywhere else on the beach, if somebody obtains permission from the director. Also, water polo balls can be thrown in the ocean.
The reported $1,000 fine for Frisbee throwing is not accurate. Violating this feature of the ordinance could get you a $100 fine on the first offense. The $1,000 fine included in the ordinance is for violating other features, including nudity (new to this ordinance, nudity is banned in all situations, previously it was allowed for theater performances, so your planned production of Hair at El Porto isn't happening), being in the ocean during hazardous conditions and use of various devices in sections of the ocean restricted to swimmers.
Following media reports, many of them incorrect, about the ordinance, county officials have been receiving a high number of inquiries, according to an article that appears on the website of County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, whose district includes Malibu. The article quotes Beaches & Harbors Director Santos Kreimann, who said people should not be expecting the Frisbee and Football Police to be manning the beaches this summer.
"We don't ticket anybody for throwing a ball on the beach, as long as they're doing it responsibly," he said.
Go here to read the entire ordinance. Keep in mind when reading it, words that are crossed out mean they have been deleted from the County Code, words that are underlined are new to the code and those that are not crossed out or underlined mean they already are in the code and will remain there.
The ordinance will go into effect next month.
Editor's Note: The article and poll below contained inaccuracies in their initial versions. The poll wording could perhaps be considered skewed, however, we think a poll is still appropriate with the wording that is in place.