Parks and Rec Commission recommends limited pier hours

OCEANSIDE — The Parks and Recreation Commission recommended changes in city parks and pier hours Tuesday. New park hours, that reflect sunrise and sunset times, were unanimously approved.

There was extensive discussion before a 6-1 vote recommended limited hours for the pier, which is currently open 24/7.

Proposed park hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.

Pier hours, upon the City Council approval, would be from 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. Hours would close the pier one hour after Ruby’s Diner, at the end of the pier, finishes business, and open the pier when city maintenance workers begin cleaning.

If approved a lockable metal gate would be installed where the wood planks begin.

City police requested the time restrictions to allow longer use of parks, and deter inappropriate activity on the pier.

Police Captain Fred Armijo said the request for limited pier hours is not due to police staffing or violent crimes.

The problem is fish remains, human fecal matter and other trash left on the pier. Armijo said these occurrences usually happen when few people are present.

“We don’t have an overwhelming crime issue,” Armijo said. “It’s a quality of life issue with low level crimes.”

The mess that is left behind needs to be hand cleaned by city maintenance staff. Due to environmental regulations, the pier can no longer be power washed, and fish and other waste is not permitted to land in the ocean.

“We run into some pretty disgusting stuff,” Kiel Koger, city public works manager, said.

Limited hours would deter late night use, and make after hours violations on the pier more obvious.

Commissioners questioned having pier hours that would penalize fishers and strollers who do not cause problems. One commissioner asked if limiting pier fishing hours would violate residents’ rights.

Oceanside resident Jimmy Knott opposed restrictions for the same reasons.

“The actions of a small minority of people punishes the vast amount of Oceansiders, that’s unfair,” Knott said. “It destroys 100 years of history, and public rights.”

City staff has looked at the problem over time, and researched pier hours in other cities.

“It’s more to do with a clean up issue,” Armijo said. “To come across that stuff does not leave the greatest impression of the city.”

The original request to open the pier 30 minutes before sunrise was modified to 4 a.m. to add access hours. Proposed regulations include the beach area under the pier.

If approved by the City Council, new hours will not limit time given to permitted special events. Regulations will not affect city skateboard parks, which have their own use rules.

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