Some things, like gas fumes and flames, simply should not be mixed. Jet Skis and swimmers are another dangerous combination. Unfortunately, swimmers have been forced into a state of coexistence, although not too peacefully, in the waters off Newport Beach.
Thus far, except for a few minor incidents, no major accident has occurred. That can be explained by luck as much as anything else. But allowing 230-pound Jet Skis traveling at close to 40 m.p.h. and 110-pound motorized surfboards riding the waves at 30 m.p.h. to operate at will in waters used by swimmers and surfers is courting disaster.
The city’s Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission realizes this. It is aware of the growing number of complaints, confrontations and close calls between beach-goers, surfers and the high-speed, motorized water equipment. And the commission wisely is not ready to sit back and push luck any further.
Coming before the City Council probably before the end of this month are proposed regulations that would put restrictions on when and where Jet Skis and mechanized surfboards can be launched. The proposed regulations would also require the motorized equipment to stay at least 100 feet from any swimmer and 200 feet from the beachfront.
Those are reasonable restrictions that the City Council should adopt immediately--and strongly enforce with severe penalties for violators.
The intent is not to restrict jet skiers’ fun. But coastal agencies entrusted with the care of the public shoreline have an obligation to all who use the sand and surf to see they can do so as safely as possible. They should not have to face the hazards of speeding Jet Skis and motorized surfboards or have the tranquility of the surf splashing on the shoreline shattered by the roar of motorized water equipment.
Jet Skis and motorized surfboards have their place but it shouldn’t be close to the bathing beaches and surfing areas. There, they make ocean outings hazardous and unpleasant for everyone else along the shoreline.