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Hermosa Beach officials raise fines for Fourth of July

City officials in Hermosa Beach have put would-be partygoers on notice for the Fourth of July.

Thousands of party-seekers usually descend each year upon the tiny beach town — known for its young, hip bar scene — to cruise the Strand or attend one of dozens of raucous house parties that often spill onto the beach.

But after a marked rise in arrests during last year's holiday, Hermosa Beach is cracking down on public intoxication and other offenses for the entire week, tripling the fines for such offenses from Monday to Sunday.

"Unfortunately, I think we've started to gain a reputation as some place where you can come and just go wild," Mayor Kit Bobko said. "What we're saying is be responsible and don't treat our city like it's a spring break town. Because it's not."

Last year, Hermosa Beach police received more than 300 calls for service during the day and made 24 arrests, including 15 for public intoxication. The city's tiny eight-cell jail was filled to capacity.

One beach party, attended by hundreds of teens, quickly spiraled out of control after word spread on social media. One police officer was punched in the face while trying to break up a fight.

This year, city officials say, nearly 100 officers will be out in force on the Fourth, including 50 Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies and undercover enforcement officers from the state's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Police will also bring in a 35-foot "jail bus" that will enable officers to hold and process more arrestees more quickly. Fines for offenses such as open containers in public or on the beach, which typically cost nearly $500, will be tripled through Sunday.

"This increased police presence will ensure strict enforcement of laws," interim Police Chief Michael McCrary wrote in a letter to residents. He added that the campaign "is aimed at ensuring we can all safely enjoy Independence Day."

As temperatures sizzled in Southern California over the weekend, American flag bikinis and bandannas abounded, as did blue and red plastic cups and beer-laden coolers stuck in the sand.

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Twitter: @cmaiduc

christine.maiduc@latimes.com

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