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Crime concerns prompt S.D. to propose night closures at several coastal areas, including in Point Loma, OB

People and animals frolic at Dog Beach in Ocean Beach.
People and animals frolic at Dog Beach in Ocean Beach, which is proposed to get signs prohibiting late-night parking to help reduce crime and other problems along San Diego’s coast.
(File / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The city will need approval from the California Coastal Commission.

San Diego officials say they want to enact nighttime closures at nearly a dozen coastal parks and parking areas spanning from Point Loma to La Jolla to help reduce gang activity, late-night parties, illegal bonfires and unauthorized camping.

The parks and parking lots would either be physically closed by installing new security gates or would have signs posted announcing the overnight closures. They would be added to several coastal parks and lots that already have overnight restrictions in place, some for as long as 20 years.

City officials and many community leaders say the new restrictions would serve as a key enforcement tool for police, who are facing increased gang activity in Mission Beach and more overnight parties in Mission Bay Park.

To expand the number of parks and lots with overnight restrictions, the city needs approval from the California Coastal Commission, which is typically reluctant to support restrictions that limit the public’s access to coastal areas.

Permission from the commission also is needed to continue enforcing restrictions now in place, because the city’s permit for those restrictions expired last year.

Leaders of the city’s Parks & Recreation Department are seeking support for the proposed closures from nearly 50 neighborhood groups and civic organizations to help persuade the Coastal Commission to approve the closures.

Parks & Rec officials declined requests for interviews about the new proposal. But they said through a spokesman that the proposal is still in its early stages and that the list of proposed parks might change.

“The Parks & Recreation Department has conducted public outreach to local stakeholders for recommendations about how we can better manage coastal parking lots, which may include the installation of additional signage, gates and changes to hours of operation,” city spokesman Tim Graham said this week.

City officials said the list of new areas proposed for overnight closure is based on “recent observations of after-hours activity and requests” from the community.

Locations that would get new security gates are Sunset Cliffs Natural Park/Ladera Street parking lot in Point Loma, Torrey Pines Gliderport in La Jolla, Belmont Park in Mission Beach, and East Bonita Cove, Ventura Cove and Bahia Point in Mission Bay Park.

Coastal areas that would get signs saying parking is prohibited at night are Ocean Beach Dog Beach, Santa Monica Avenue parking lot in Ocean Beach, Newport Avenue and Ocean Beach Pier parking lot, Sunset Cliffs Linear Park and Windansea Beach in La Jolla.

Hours of closure would be 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. or midnight to 6 a.m., with gates to be closed by a security service each night. Installations of gates would be contingent on availability of funding, which would be about $6,000 per gate.

Locations that already have security gates for night closures are Kellogg Park in La Jolla Shores, South Mission Beach, South Jetty/ Mission Point, Crown Point, Fiesta Island and Fanuel Street Park in Pacific Beach.

Some residents and environmentalists have questioned whether the proposed new closures would go too far, contending the city’s reaction to many problems is to remove public access.

But Marcella Bothwell, chairwoman of the city’s Park and Recreation Board and head of the Pacific Beach Town Council, said the new rules would only limit parking, not access to the water.

“You can still walk on the beach — you just can’t park,” she said. “So it won’t affect those who persevere.”

Ocean Town Council President Corey Bruins did not respond to a request for comment.

— Point Loma-OB Monthly staff contributed to this report.


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