OCEANSIDE — Oceanside has taken action to beef up its no loitering rules and improve public health and safety.
City Council unanimously approved the introduction of additional regulations June 7. New rules do not allow interfering with the free passage of a pedestrian or bicyclist, illegal drug activity or loitering inside or within 15 feet of a public restroom.
Police Officer Steve Link said he has experienced a high number of calls about incidents around public restrooms. There have been reports of lewd conduct, drug sales and use, alcohol consumption, assaults, encampment, an increase in litter and storage of property.
Residents and visitors have reportedly confronted these activities while trying to use public restrooms.
This has increased fear in the community and depreciated adjacent property and the city’s image.
Link said new laws would not be an “end all, be all,” but would provide enforcement action.
“The intent is to make bathrooms a safe place,” Link said.
Self-policing and signage will be used as deterrents. Citations will be issued as needed.
Under the city’s new rules people who are asked by police to leave an area will not be allowed to return for 24 hours. Those given a citation cannot return for 72 hours.
Police Chief Frank McCoy said regulations will provide police additional means to address people causing problems.
Councilwoman Esther Sanchez shared her support for the rules, which safeguard visitors to the city’s 55 parks and beaches.
“To sell drugs and other things is not intended for restrooms,” Sanchez said. “It will help the public feel safer.”
Much of the wording of new regulations puts city rules in better alliance with state codes.
Prohibiting loitering inside or within 15 feet of public restrooms is unique to Oceanside.
The city took similar action to address loitering and secondhand smoke dangers in the beach underpass walkway in September.
Rules prohibiting smoking were passed and enforced with self-policing, signage and citations.