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Multi-use Shared Bike Path Will Increase Trash, Fire Debris on Coronado Beach

Planning to spend $100,000 dollars to study a Multi-use shared Bike Path on the beach is a bad idea for a number of reasons. Building it is an even worse idea! The City of Coronado can’t keep the beach clean, so how do they think that attracting more people to the beach, and along a concrete path will keep it any cleaner?

The Coronado Police Department and Beach Cleanup Crew are understaffed for enforcement and beach maintenance. The City of Coronado is currently in the practice of limiting many of the beach cleanup crew to less than 1000 hours of work annually to avoid paying benefits. By the time the Spring comes around many of them are off the work schedule as the beach traffic picks up with party & fire ring visitors beginning in April and going non-stop through the middle of October. The City of Coronado’s new fiscal year starts July 1st, so basically there is a very harmful shortage of beach cleanup crew workers on top of the full-season shortage of workers, for a full three, critical months of the Spring and beginning of Summer. Our talks with these workers are consistent with most of them saying a few more crew members would help in doing a better job at cleaning the beach.

The Beach Cleanup Crew does not have adequate sand-cleaning capabilities. Screens that are used to sift the sand, whether by hand or machine, are too coarse and do not separate fire and other non-sand debris well enough from the sand to maintain or even restore a natural beach state. The beach sand already is altered significantly around and adjacent to the fire rings, as well as at other spot areas all along the beach. Significant fire debris and trash get easily covered over and buried, and easily overlooked. As a result, the sand is accumulating debris at a very rapid rate and being ruined.

Allowing fires and BBQs at the beach creates a liability issue for the City and a hazard for anyone, especially when enforcement is almost non-existent. Children and adults are put at risk of being burned, poked, or cut from burning/smoldering fires, nails, shards of wood, and glass. Even though ordinances are in place and have been refined in the past year violations persist on a daily basis. Throughout the day into beach closure at 11 p.m., enforcement is next to non-existent, this is why we are repeatedly finding trash everywhere on the beach, including glass, fires still burning, fire debris outside of the fire rings, nails in the sand, and fires that were made outside of the fire rings, at times with coals or fire char still hot or smoldering, and at times covered over with sand in an apparent attempt to put it out. Wind also contributes to blowing sand over them and so they can be easily overlooked and at times forgotten. Sight unseen, this creates a hazard. Fires still visibly burning are a hazard particularly to children. Again, almost non-existent enforcement is the reason why we are able to document two years worth of video and pictures substantiating these claims. The video and pictorial documentation can be found at www.coronadocleanbeach.com and https://vimeo.com/user20445263

The City of Coronado does not have “internal controls to measure success,” over beach cleanliness, but the documentation found at these websites serves as the only comprehensive body of evidence.

Neither the Coronado Police Department nor the Beach Cleanup Crew can keep up with the demands on the resources. We have on video a 17 year CPD veteran Officer candidly saying he knows the situation at the beach well and that they (CPD) can’t handle it all (enforcement). You can see that video here: https://vimeo.com/132370997

In a phone complaint with CPD Sgt. Heimer on August 15, 2015 at 9:55 a.m., we reported about several pallets in a parked truck at North Beach, and one individual who was taking apart a pallet with a hammer while on the beach at a fire ring (approx. 9:40 a.m.); in the conversation Sgt. Heimer communicated that they’re [“going to advise visitors that they can’t have pallets on the beach but they’re not going to make them remove them… that they’re going to be light-handed… but if they advise them and then later see them with the pallet(s) on the beach then they will consider citing them”]. He said he needed to take a closer look at the ordinance. Prior to phoning the complaint, we had talked with the individual who was beginning to dismantle the pallet, stopped him from doing so, and learned from him that he was told by a City worker in a truck that “nails were not allowed on the beach,” and that he drove away. The individual was understanding and in agreement and said he would remove the pallet. So how did this guy come to realize that he could dismantle the pallet while on the beach? This confusion should never be happening. Why are people still coming to the beach with pallets? The City should be spending money and time on getting the word out better through PR Releases, News and radio!

We interpret the ordinance amendment to mean that if a pallet(s) are on the beach that they must be immediately removed from the beach and placed back into the vehicles that brought them there, not left on the sidewalk or anywhere else for the public to repeat violation of the ordinance! We are absolutely for light-handed, trust-building enforcement which means that officers built trust by being friendly, but take names, and stay present until the wood is removed and placed back into the vehicles they came from. We’re not advocating a heavy-handed, write-citations-every-chance-you-get type of enforcement. Clearly, an ‘advise-and-leave’ method isn’t working! The City’s enforcement policies need to be more than “I’m cool, I’m your buddy advice and then leave” type of enforcement. That isn’t working, that isn’t effective!

Now that the weather is unusually warmer on an annual basis because of climate changes, fire ring usage goes up anytime we have warmer days and nights during the Winter as well. Usage of the fire rings is at an all-time high and growing as each year more and more people turn out to the beach. There has been some improvement to existing ordinances and cleanliness, but both are still lacking and enforcement of ordinances over fires, pallets, trash, dogs out of zone, is almost never enforced! In fact, CPD Chief Jon Frogmen released Beach Citation Data from 1/1/2013 – 10/31/2014 that shows a total of five citations were written—(2) two for unlawful camping/lodging, (2) two for smoking, and (1) one for glass on the beach, and (0) ZERO for anything having to do with fires or trash, or dogs outside of zone! Mayor Casey Tanaka said that [“We could definitely use more enforcement”] in 2014 during a City Council meeting over these very issues. Where is the increased enforcement Mayor Tanaka? What’s changed? An update to ordinances? More signage? Elite security at the beach entrance? A limited Peace Officer at the beach Thurs thru Sunday? None of it seems to be very effective.

How is it that we are still documenting the same fire and trash abuse at the beach?! Coronado Police Officers are not enforcing, they may be ‘advising’ but it should be clear that they are not enforcing ordinances. There is a big difference between ‘advising’ and ‘enforcing’ ordinances, and enforcement doesn’t necessarily have to include writing citations. And telling beach visitors they can’t do this or that and then walking or driving away does nothing; the people turn around and continue doing what they were advised not to do! If actual enforcement and citations were being made it would then send a clear message to the Public!

A simple understanding of Coronado beach’s physical size should elucidate for anyone with common sense that it’s size creates for more difficult tactics and logistics for enforcement and maintenance. For example, compared to City of San Diego beaches, the depth of Coronado’s beach is 3x to 4x deeper. So, there is an enormous difference in area to enforce and maintain! With such understaffing, lack of adequate equipment and enforcement, coupled with even greater demand on the beach, the care, cleanup and enforcement of the beach will become even more difficult if a multi-use bike path is installed. How is it that the City is going to all of a sudden come up with more money for annual salaries to adequately handle the increase in beach traffic?

The bike path will only invite more visitors and with parking hard to come by it will only get worse with people transporting their bikes over here to ride the route. The new ease of access will encourage beach visitors to use the bike path to transport their BBQs and party-ware in greater number and frequency. So will the City now be promoting fires, BBQs and parties all up and down the beach, beyond the fire rings? We’ll have people biking or transporting by beach-wagon their firewood, charcoal, BBQ fixings’ and party-ware out all along the beach, the whole friend & family-posse in tow helping out—only increasing the quantity of fires, BBQs and trash! Trash will also accumulate alongside the bike path, it will increase all kinds of activity, and more trash! The sand dunes will become more used and worn. The City allows fires and BBQs on the entire stretch of beach but have fire receptacles only at the North Beach fire rings? Great, as a solution let’s litter the beach with even more fire receptacles promoting even more fires all over the beach, yeah, this will go great with the Multi-use shared Bike Path! Yah right… Is the City prepared to also increase annual enforcement and cleanup staff along with the expense of a multi-million dollar party/event/BBQ/fire and trash promoting Multi-use shared Bike Path?

Has adequate attention been given to the outfalls along the beach? NO. Would this be part of the $100,000 study? Building over or across these will come with high costs and complications for approval of.

How is it that there is no smoking on the beach but fires are allowed? Since when did the air quality of fires become healthier than cigarettes?

The Beach is Coronado’s number one resource. Start giving to it the care and attention it deserves. Start giving it the care and attention that we give our treasured National Parks!

Start paying more attention to what the resident taxpayers need and want; visitors come to the beach, place huge demands on it, and leave it trashed. We don’t think anyone who lives on Coronado wants anymore of that. Beach fires are altering the natural state and color of the sand, the natural environment, in a way that is very hard to correct. This is amplified by the hordes of people that now visit burning their fires and leaving their trash all over the place, almost year round now. We have visitors now staking claim to fire rings as early as 8 a.m. during the Summer! There is enormous demand for fires on the beach! Consequently, they trash the beach and pollute the sand beyond adequate cleanup and enforcement resources all at the cost of resident taxpayers?! It is not wise to misuse resident taxpayer money for the benefit of visitors! A new approach must be taken to preserve the natural sand environment for the long-term, not continue to allow it to be destroyed for the priority of the visitors and an increase in commercial activity on the beach.

DO NOT be suckered into believing that the City will limit this Multi-use shared Bike Path to only bike and pedestrian traffic. It is a ‘Trojan horse’ for allowing small and large trucks, and ATVs on the path like they are allowing on the new path in front of the Hotel Del. Inserting the phrase ‘bike path’ and having it planned by the Bike Committee is only a ruse for more commercial activity. Soon enough the City will be allowing all kinds of commercial activity to unload/load equipment and party hardware conflicting with its use as a bike and pedestrian path! Please realize that the City is lying about its proposed use!

This Multi-use shared Bike Path ‘trojan horse’ is a bad idea! The City needs to drop that idea and work at becoming competent and consistent at keeping the beach clean, safe, liability-free, and preserved for generations to come before willfully and recklessly altering its natural state for the benefit of visitors to use as a trash can and ashtray, and cause an increase in traffic and parking space competition. A good start would be to ban all cooking and fires on the beach! That would solve a lot of problems including saving the City money. People will still enjoy the beach just the same with packing their food into a cooler or backpack, no problem. The Multi-use shared Bike Path mostly benefits visitors to the detriment of the environment, and promotes more environmental destruction of the natural state of the beach, because let’s face it, the City of Coronado so far is inept with maintaining and enforcing the beach, and preserving its natural beauty. The videos and pictures are proof. Mayor Tanaka once said on television news not long ago that “We do things differently here in Coronado.” It’s time for the City to continue to live up to that thinking and do something that hasn’t been done before with regard to keeping the beach clean, safe and liability-free.