COAST CITIES — Finding parking near the beach can be a challenge. And it’s made tougher by signs in front of residents’ homes stating parking isn’t allowed there.
The thing is, most of those signs are fake.
“It’s happening up and down the California coast,” said Pat Veesart, an enforcement supervisor with the California Coastal Commission. “The cumulative effect is less parking for members of the public who want to access the beach.”
Veesart said coastal commission enforcement officers spend a significant amount of time verifying signs’ legitimacy. Almost always, they’re unauthorized.
The problem is especially acute near the coastline, where there’s often a shortage of parking, he said.
Veesart added that beachside homeowners often order the signs online and put them up to save a spot for guests. Or they don’t like the public parking in proximity to their homes.
“They affect coastal access — something we protect,” Veesart said.
The signs are illegal when posted on or near public roads, according to the California Vehicle Code and California Coastal Act.
However, a homeowner can prohibit parking when necessary for a construction project to move forward. Doing so requires a coastal development permit, but Veesart said those permits are “pretty rare.”
If it’s determined the signs are indeed fake, the coastal commission coordinates with many cities in order to have them taken down.
Yet the coastal commission can only do so much. Veesart said the coastal commission has limited “time and resources to address the signs.”
The public occasionally brings fake signs to the coastal commission’s attention, Veesart said. Still, most people simply aren’t aware that the signs aren’t permitted.
He noted complaints related to illegal signs are uncommon in North County, especially compared to areas like Malibu, where it’s particularly tough to secure parking.
Nonetheless, he said the problem affects the entire coastline.
Occasionally, Encinitas will install signage barring parking in an area in response to a specific issue, according to Nestor Mangohig, associate traffic engineer with the city.
But Mangohig too has noticed some unauthorized “No-Parking” displays, though he could only recall one complaint from a resident related to a fake sign.
“There are some signs that shouldn’t be there,” Mangohig said.
Mangohig noted the city keeps a database of permitted signs. Those who suspect a sign is illegal can report it on the city’s website.