City looks to regulate group beach, park use

City looks to regulate group beach, park use
Denny Cooper, founder and director of Surf Camps USA, asks that two surf camps be allowed at Harbor Beach. The City Council said they would work with groups that want to use city parks and beaches. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — Surf camps, fitness classes and other groups will soon need a permit to use Oceanside parks and beaches.

The City Council unanimously approved the introduction of an ordinance to require groups to obtain a $175 annual special operations permit, prove insurance, and have participants sign a city waiver to use parks and beaches.

“I believe it’s a really good step,” Councilwoman Esther Sanchez said. “These areas are meant for the public to ensure public recreation.”

City consulting assistant and former city manager Peter Weiss said the regulations allow the city to monitor group use and ensure the public has access.

“Now that we don’t have a process we’re seeing more increased public use of our public parks and beaches,” Weiss said. “We just want to make sure the people who are trying to use the parks, and the beach, and the amphitheater for personal use still have access to it.”

Weiss described the proposed laws as minimal regulations.

Other North County cities and state parks have similar laws, which range from requirements for a request for proposal, to a special operations permit similar to Oceanside’s regulation.

Groups wishing to use Oceanside parks and beaches will have a window of time to fill out the permit request.

Weiss said permits would be approved on a first come, first serve basis following that window.

The city retains first rights to parks and beach use for planned special events. Staff recommendations ask that surf camps be limited to five, and fitness groups do not use the pier stairs or ramps.

During the meeting Denny Cooper, founder and director of Surf Camps USA, asked that two surf camps be allowed at Harbor Beach and applicants be selected on merit. Cooper has been running a surf camp in Oceanside for 12 years.

He said the company is insured and instructors are certified.

“We more than meet the requirements,” Cooper said.

The City Council said they would work with groups.

“We need to keep in mind how we can help them,” Councilman Jack Feller said. “I’m not in favor of more regulations.”

If the ordinance receives final approval the city will use warnings and education the first year to enforce the new regulations, and evaluate the ordinance at the end of summer.

It is expected to return to the City Council for a final vote Feb. 18.

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