NEWPORT BEACH : Decision on Year-Round Surfing Expected Monday From Council

Surfers learn Monday if their lobbying this summer will wipe out a 29-year-old ban on year-round surfing.

"All concerns from need to feasibility to liability to cost have been addressed," said Bill Sharp, 34, a surf shop owner and leader of the effort to eliminate the ban.

"The only hurdle [has been] a few emotional residents, who just don't like surfers," he said in a written statement. "But it's not their beach. It belongs to all of us."

The Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission recommends allowing surfing year-round at three areas that would be created between the jetties at 36th and 40th streets, 44th and 48th, and 52nd and 56th streets.

Since 1966, lifeguards have raised a yellow flag with a black ball in the middle to call surfers out of the water between noon and 4 p.m. from June 10 through Sept. 15. The ban, known as "blackballing," was established to separate bathers from surfers as a safety measure.

The City Council was to review the issue Sept. 25, but Councilwoman Janice A. Debay requested that the vote be postponed because of homeowners' concerns that property values in the area may drop as a result of a "bad image" associated with surfing.

But during a recent Parks, Beaches and Recreation meeting, where commissioners gave the ordinance change the thumbs-up, Commissioner Kenneth Bonner had said that there was no evidence to support the residents' concerns.

The City Council will meet Monday at 7 p.m. at City Hall Council Chambers, 3300 W. Newport Blvd.

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