Laguna Main Beach bans frisbees, hole-digging, and umbrellasgreenspun.com : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread
Beach Rules Have Crossed a Line in the Sand With a seaside city's ban on Frisbees and holes of a certain depth, one must wonder what's next.
By MARY MCNAMARA, Times Staff Writer
In countries at war, the beach has often played a key role--"establishing a beachhead" is now an overused idiom for taking action or asserting control. But Los Angeles is not Normandy, and here the beach serves as the symbol of what L.A. is to the rest of the world: a place of endless-summer freedom, sun-drenched languor and polyglot recklessness. To make rules at the beach is an oxymoron--the beach is the place to go to escape the rules, just as L.A. has been where you come when the rest of the world--its hang-ups and traditions--is too much for you. The wilderness at the end of the road. Now, it would seem, the beach is in danger of becoming yet another casualty of the growing obsession with crowd control and general civic bossiness. First, unleashed dogs were banned, then dogs themselves. And now, in Laguna Beach, anyway, kids and people with large families or lots of friends have been cordially disinvited, and all others told to leave their balls, paddles and Frisbees in the car. That city's recent passage of ordinances that would ban, among other things, digging holes deeper than 2 feet, throwing balls or Frisbees, and using an umbrella with a circumference larger than 6 feet, leaves one wondering who exactly they expect at the beach this summer. There are only so many hard-bodied, barefoot joggers and Reality TV-united couples on blind dates around. The rest of us are just hole-digging, umbrella-toting, Frisbee-throwing kind of folks. According to Casey Parlette, a senior lifeguard in Laguna, this is merely a case of making official the rules that have been in play for years. "It makes it a little harder for people to blow us off," he said. Presumably, when they're telling your 2-year old, who has been digging a hole for the past half-hour--the first time in two years you have been able to sit down for 30 consecutive minutes--to stop playing and go sit quietly with Mommy. Again, Parlette is soothing: "We are mostly concerned with the kids who set 'tourist traps' [holes covered with paper and sand] and the really big holes. We've had some cave-ins, kids can get hurt. This just gives us more authority. In fact, ignoring a lifeguard is now [a fineable offense] too." Almost any new law or restriction sounds reasonable when explained as a safety measure for children, but most of us were unaware of the high sand-hole-related-injury rate. One wonders where this concern for our safety will end, what another round of new ordinances might bring. A ban on all lotions with an SPF of less than 15? ("I'm sorry ma'am, I'll need to take that tropical oil. It's for your own protection.") A maximum body-fat ratio limit? ("Sir, I'd recommend a high protein diet and high cardio workout. Lose 15, then come back and see us.") Or maybe just a good-taste rating. ("Neon orange is so not 2001. Go home, change, come back. Your self-esteem would not survive the afternoon.") The fact that these new rules come directly on the heels of Los Angeles County's decision to change the traditional white-and-red lifeguard wear for a "bolder" style also gives one pause. L.A. lifeguards have the uniforms, Laguna lifeguards the authority--it seems only a matter of time before the two join forces and rule the world. OK, so even the most rabid conspiracy theorist would have a hard time imagining a secret police made up of lifeguards. But lately there has been a lot of "increased authority" around here. Sheriff's deputies have taken to stopping anyone who dares to drive down the Sunset Strip--a tourist attraction--more than twice on a weekend evening. The Feds are warning motorists to stop using their cell phones. And for months now, the city has kept up a spluttering attempt to restrict organized protests--a genuine political activity, mind you--during the upcoming Democratic convention. "Obviously you have to make choices between ensuring safety and protecting personal freedom," says Peter Eliasberg, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union. "(But) people get irritated by something and say let's pass a law, when either a law is unnecessary or there is already one in place. "I mean if you fall in a hole at the beach, you are going to fall in sand." Perhaps this overzealous policymaking is merely an attempt to make us stand up straight and get the hair out of our eyes when the Democrats are coming to tea. But even if that's the case, even if one can ignore the nagging little voice that says, "This is how it starts, a few new rules and then kerpowee," even if this isn't a move toward anti-democratic behavior, it most certainly is anti-Los Angeles. The law-skirting, social-convention-busting spirit is what makes Southern California so vibrant and unique. Here, we have the freedom to be brilliant and tacky, passionate and weird. We drive aimlessly, and then complain about the traffic. We stuff everyone we know into our car, head for the mall and then complain about the crowds. We are free to be contradictory and contentious and to get in each other's way, and we take that freedom very seriously. That's why so many people, including all those Democrats, come here in the first place. Well, that and the beach.
-- cin (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 24, 2000
I am a Laguna Beach lifeguard and have to deal with people causing all sorts of trouble with frisbees and football. You try to deter six two hundred fifty plus pound men from playing football on the fourth of July and running into little kids and old ladies without a little legal power. I think these new ordinances are effective. Furthmore, I have worked with Lifeguard Parlette for several years, and he is a highly trained, aggresive individual who is effective in the field. He has provided with me invaluable backup over the course of many difficult rescues and ordinance enforcements. Please take his comments more seriously in the future.
-- Rod Mortazavi (email@example.com), November 11, 2001.