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    San Clemente set to ban tents, closed structures on its beaches
    • October 6, 2023

    Tents or any structure with more than two closed sides will likely be prohibited on city beaches in San Clemente.

    The City Council gave the plan unanimous support on Tuesday, Oct. 3, after months of complaints from residents and enforcement officials about a growing number of tents and other structures on the city’s beaches.

    The new law, which will come back before the council on Oct. 17 for a finalizing vote, mimics rules already in place for the city’s parks, where closed-up structures are already prohibited. The purpose of the enforcement is to give the city’s code enforcement officers, park rangers and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department visibility into the tents from the exterior, officials said.

    The ordinance aligns with the city’s intent of maintaining the aesthetic and recreational value of the city’s parks and beaches and makes sure the code is consistently enforced across all the public spaces, said Danielle Sorahan, the city’s code compliance manager.

    Initial contacts, she said, will be educational with the intent of giving people a heads-up on the new law.

    “Violations of the code can be pursued as a misdemeanor, but we will give two or three warnings before we issue a fine,” she said.

    Similar rules are in place in other South County beach towns, including Laguna Beach and Newport Beach. However, Newport Beach goes even further, requiring three sides of the structure, which also can’t exceed 100 square feet or 6 feet in height, to be open. Additionally, the city requires that clustering of tents or shade structures be spaced 5 feet apart.

    In Dana Point, the city does not allow tents on the beach overnight, but has no rules related to the number of sides being open or closed. This applies to all city property, including parks and the city’s beach, which is behind the Ocean Institute in Dana Point Harbor.

    San Clemente Mayor Chris Duncan emphasized that families often use tents or shade structures to keep children and family members out of the sun and said he appreciated that fines in the city would only be given after efforts to educate the public on the new law.

    The council’s unanimous vote to move forward follows public outcry in the last few months about more tents appearing on the beach in North Beach and near the Pier Bowl.

    “It’s a good ordinance,” Councilman Rick Loeffler said. “You have discretion and make it educational. There have been people setting up camps at North Beach and we didn’t have an ordinance to address this.

    “At night, our beaches close at 10 p.m. This gives us a little more bite,” he added. “If code enforcement and deputies see tents, they can address it.”

    Related links

    With complaints about growing homeless presence, San Clemente council looks at enforcement options
    Private security patrols start in San Clemente
    San Clemente pens letter to state asking for Costa Mesa property to be housing for OC’s homeless

    Earlier this year, the council approved closing beaches earlier and hired a private security firm to enhance patrols around North Beach, the Pier Bowl and the downtown following the assault of three Marines in the Pier Bowl by a group of teens and in response to ongoing nuisance and public safety concerns raised by the community, including from an increase homeless presence. The council has also asked for more sheriff’s deputies to patrol in those areas.

    So far, Loeffler said, presence of the private security has had a positive effect.

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    ​ Orange County Register