Manhattan Beach Gives Tentative OK to Reducing Severity of Nuisance Laws

The Manhattan Beach City Council last week tentatively approved changes in the city code that will make certain offenses at public parks and beaches infractions rather than misdemeanors.

Drinking alcoholic beverages on the beach, littering, playing loud radios and ignoring lifeguard instructions will be dealt with by citations rather than misdemeanor charges if the council gives final approval to the proposed ordinance at its July 7 meeting.

Citations for infractions are generally on a set fee schedule, depending on the number of prior offenses, much like traffic tickets, said police Sgt. Ken Clark.

Police Chief Ted Mertens told the City Council that treating such offenses as misdemeanors needlessly ties up the courts because violators can request a jury trial.

"Experience has shown that first-time offenders are rarely sentenced to jail and oftentimes receive fines that would be equivalent to those imposed for infractions," his report continued.

The action would make the city's code consistent with Los Angeles County's. The Board of Supervisors has recently approved similar amendments regarding offenses at public parks and beaches.

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