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Beach fires, homeless people and speeding continue to be top La Jolla issues reported to police, SDPD says

Remnants from a beach fire in the sand at Marine Street Beach in La Jolla.
Remnants from a beach fire are seen in the sand at Marine Street Beach in La Jolla. Beach fires are one of the top issues La Jollans contact the San Diego Police Department about.
(File)

Beach fires, homeless people and speeding continue to be top issues in La Jolla reported to the San Diego Police Department’s Northern Division, according to Community Relations Officer Brandon Broaddus.

Speaking during the online Bird Rock Community Council meeting March 2, Broaddus said the department fields the most calls about those issues, so it is allocating resources to address them.

For the record:

10:55 a.m. March 12, 2021Beach fires must be contained to city-provided fire rings or to portable barbecues or similar devices. This article originally left out portable devices.

“We’re slowly trying to get a handle on beach fires and citing people for that,” he said. “But we have to go through our progressive enforcement protocol, where we start with education and trying to gain compliance; then we move into the enforcement action.”

To assist in the effort, division Capt. Matt Novak created a permanent beach team — which was seasonal in previous years — to patrol the beaches day and night, and is launching a social media information campaign on what is allowed in terms of fires.

Currently, beach fires are prohibited between midnight and 5 a.m. and must be contained to city-provided fire rings or to portable barbecues or similar devices. Fuel must be “clean, dry wood,” charcoal or propane.

Brandon Broaddus of the San Diego Police Department's Northern Division addresses the Bird Rock Community Council on March 2.
Community Relations Officer Brandon Broaddus of the San Diego Police Department’s Northern Division addresses the Bird Rock Community Council online March 2.
(Courtesy)

The department also recently received two police investigative service officers who have been tasked with closing gates to beachside parks to deter after-hours fires.

“It’s been really helpful having those officers,” Broaddus said. “We want to decrease the number of fires by closing off those areas so people can’t get in and out as easily. We know people are sneaking in, so we have to address that, but this is a start.”

Just north of Bird Rock, the La Jolla Parks & Beaches board voted during its December meeting to write a letter to the city of San Diego requesting a ban on all wood and charcoal fires and permitting only propane-fueled fires at Barber Tract beaches.

Further north, members of the La Jolla Shores Association have been working to curb the proliferation of beach fires since 2018.

The groups are concerned about excessive smoke wafting into nearby houses and embers being buried in the sand, where they can remain hot for hours unbeknownst to people walking the beach.

An “ongoing issue” pertains to homeless people, Broaddus said. “If you have an issue with a homeless person in your business or home area, use our Get It Done app or call the Homeless Outreach Team [at (619) 446-1010].”

Speeding also is often reported, he said. “Across the beach communities, we have people speeding.”

To address that, the Northern Division applied and was approved for a grant to fund a “radar car” that can be stationed at problem areas. “So if I get a complaint about speed in a certain area, I can put that radar car there with an officer in it and do some enforcement,” Broaddus said.

When asked about whether the light fixtures on La Jolla Boulevard and in residential areas are sufficient to deter crime, he said: “The more lighting we have, the less likely someone is to come in the area, because they don’t want to be seen. More light is always good.”

He recommended talking to city engineers to assess whether new lights could be installed, and noted that burned-out lights can be repaired when they are reported.

Broaddus can be reached at bbroaddus@pd.sandiego.gov.

Other BRCC news

Coastal Overlook Committee report: BRCC member and Coastal Overlook Committee co-chair Don Schmidt said he had communicated with representatives of District 1 City Councilman Joe LaCava about problematic overlooks. Some have overgrown vegetation or damaged infrastructure. Schmidt said he and LaCava’s office were looking at ways to expedite the process of allowing residents to trim vegetation.

There have been disagreements among city departments as to who is responsible for the overlooks, preventing anyone from maintaining them.

Assemblyman report: New California Assembly member and former San Diego Councilman Chris Ward offered a report on the early months of his term, which began in December. He said one of his early priorities in Sacramento is establishing rent stabilization and assistance programs “to help renters and landowners pay the mortgage and make sure we are protecting them from further evictions.”

Ward, a Democrat who represents the 78th Assembly District, which includes La Jolla, commended San Diego County for its COVID-19 vaccine rollout and said the Assembly is working on reopening schools and establishing funds for small-business loans and grants. He said he personally is working on legislation pertaining to climate issues, coastal resources, gun control and homelessness.

Next meeting: The Bird Rock Community Council next meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 6, online. Learn more at birdrockcc.org.