The noise-weary residents of Redondo Beach's Esplanade this week lauded the recent police crackdown on boomboxes there, but complained that loud car stereos are only part of a larger cruising problem that has drawn vandals, loud motorcycles and parking meter scofflaws.
At a special City Council session Tuesday on local traffic, council members spoke favorably of expanding anti-cruising efforts on the Esplanade by re-striping the four-lane thoroughfare into a two-lane street, lengthening the hours during which parking is banned on the street's west side and restricting motorcycle parking to one vehicle per parking space.
Moreover, Councilwoman Barbara Doerr suggested that the police budget be increased to allow enforcement to continue on the popular street without weakening manpower elsewhere in the city. Further discussion and a vote on those issues is scheduled for June 5.
Police Lt. Ken Kauffman and Chief Roger Moulton basked in applause as they recapped last Saturday's campaign to keep down the decibel level on the Esplanade.
Using a controversial new tactic and a recent addition to the state Vehicle Code, police cited those whose stereos were audible from more than 50 feet away and then seized their speakers as evidence. The citations, similar to those for moving violations, carry fines and penalties of up to $150, which must be paid or dismissed by a judge before the speakers are returned.
"Needless to say, this has put people into shock and dismay," Moulton told the council. But the strategy was necessary, he said, because "we have advised, we have warned, and we have cited to no avail."
Only one person opposed the crackdown among the dozens of residents who spoke.
"Everything these kids do, everywhere they go, they get chewed out," said Dee Dee Pearson, a parent who charged that the city has offered teen-agers too few alternatives to cruising.
"If our kids choose not to do drugs but to put their money into their cars--just as I suspect you did when you were teen-agers, with tailpipes and carburetors and radios--then I applaud them," Pearson said.
But Don Tallman, a resident of the Esplanade who earlier this month led a delegation of his neighbors to a council meeting to complain about the cruising, called the crackdown "wonderful."
"But," he added, "you've got to keep after 'em. Boomboxes are only part of the problem."
Tallman, in an interview, said that several weeks ago someone on the Esplanade apparently armed with a slingshot had fired a metal sprinkler head through his glass doors, shattering them. And another resident said her main complaint is not the thrumming music, but the revving of motorcycles.
Charlie Melwing said the motorcycle riders travel in packs and create a deafening roar. Moreover, Melwing said, they often park two or more to a space on the street and manage to cadge free parking from the city by simply banging on the meter.
"They just hit the meters and get 45 minutes!" Melwing said, as the police chief and city manager winced. City Manager Tim Casey said officials had hoped the general public wouldn't find out about the chance for free parking.
"The police are aware of the problem," replied Casey. "And now I guess everyone else is aware of the opportunity."
Kauffman said the team assigned to the Esplanade on Saturday issued 79 citations for violations other than noise, impounded nine vehicles, arrested four people on outstanding warrants and picked up two others for driving drunk. One of the drunk drivers, he added, "was a completely naked man running the same cruising pattern as the kids."
Kauffman noted that only one or two of the people cited or arrested were from Redondo Beach, adding that one of the drivers arrested for letting his stereo blare was visiting from Chicago.