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NEWPORT BEACH : Officials to Hear Surfing Area Proposals

A panel studying whether the city’s beaches should have surfing-only areas will present five proposals tonight.

Since 1966, the city has prohibited hard-board surfing on city beaches from noon to 4 p.m. June 10 through Sept. 15.

Bill Sharp, 34, a veteran surfer and owner of a local surf shop, organized a challenge to the law early this summer, saying that Newport Beach is the only coastal city in Orange County without a year-round surfing area.

Non-surfers countered with concerns that surfers would take over such an area, crowding out other beach-goers.

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After 120 surfers attended a Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission meeting Aug. 1, the commission appointed the panel, the Blackball Revision Committee, named for the black-ball flags raised at beaches during hours when hard-board surfing is prohibited. The committee has since come up with five options for revising the existing law.

Any change would require adding personnel and equipment to patrol the beaches, said John Blauer, acting marine safety captain and the Marine Division’s representative on the panel.

But Sharp said surfers and the surfing industry could raise the money necessary to cover any extra costs.

The panel will make its report at 7 p.m. in the City Council conference room at City Hall, 3300 Newport Blvd. The Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission will consider the recommendation Sept. 5, and the City Council will consider it at its Sept. 25 meeting.

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